Reduce inflammation for Myeloproliferative disorders like Polycythemia Vera

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  COVID attacks the red blood cells and limits their ability to transport and deliver oxygen. This is why diabetics with glycosylated hemoglobin (sugar coated hemoglobin) are at greater risk of bad outcomes if they get infected.  Targeting inflammation is job #1 for someone with myeloproliferative blood disorders. 

“…The functional interplay between blood cells, the clotting cascade, and dysfunctional endothelium contributes to hypercoagulability and this process is perpetuated by the effect of inflammatory cytokines…”

HERE are some articles of interest.

J Autoimmun. 2017 Dec;85:58-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2017.06.010. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

Inflammation and myeloproliferative neoplasms

Federico Lussana 1 , Alessandro Rambaldi 2


Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) include three main entities: Polycythemia Vera (PV), Essential Thrombocythemia (ET), and Myelofibrosis (MF). MPN represent a unique model of the relationship between the clonal development of a hematologic malignancy and chronic inflammation. The neoplastic clone is the main driver of this inflammatory reaction as demonstrated by the curative effect of allogeneic stem cell transplantation which leads not only to a complete restore of the hematopoiesis, but also to regression of bone marrow fibrosis. The neoplastic clone and its differentiated progeny are also the main source of an indirect paracrine secretion of inflammatory cytokines released by different normal cells present within the tumor microenvironment. In the end, the cytokine storm within the bone marrow niche leads to fibrosis. In addition, chronic inflammation is responsible of the constitutional symptoms which negatively affect the quality of life of MPN patients and represents a major driver for the development of premature atherosclerosis and disease progression. Here we describe the available data about the link between MPN and chronic inflammation in animal models as well as in clinical studies. We also review the practical value of including acute phase inflammatory proteins such as high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and pentraxin 3 (PTX-3) in prognostic stratification of MPN patients. Interestingly, the plasma levels of these proteins is often increase in MPN patients and this may be important when considering the well-established link between these two inflammatory proteins and the risk of both arterial and venous thrombosis. Although the available drugs are unable to eradicate the malignant clone, the ability to identify patient with a high inflammatory burden and an adverse molecular profile is importantto advise therapy with ruxolitinib or even allogeneic stem cell transplantation that currently represents the only potentially curative option for these diseases.



Semin Immunopathol. 2019 Jan;41(1):5-19. doi: 10.1007/s00281-018-0700-2. Epub 2018 Sep 10.

Perspectives on interferon-alpha in the treatment of polycythemia vera and related myeloproliferative neoplasms: minimal residual disease and cure?

Hans Carl Hasselbalch 1 , Morten Orebo Holmström 2  3


The first clinical trials of the safety and efficacy of interferon-alpha2 (IFN-alpha2) were performed about 30 years ago. Since then, several single-arm studies have convincingly demonstrated that IFN-alpha2 is a highly potent anti-cancer agent in several cancer types but unfortunately not being explored sufficiently due to a high toxicity profile when using non-pegylated IFN-alpha2 or high dosages or due to competitive drugs, that for clinicians at first glance might look more attractive. Within the hematological malignancies, IFN-alpha2 has only recently been revived in patients with the Philadelphia-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms-essential thrombocytosis, polycythemia vera, and myelofibrosis (MPNs)-and in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in combination with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In this review, we tell the IFN story in MPNs from the very beginning in the 1980s up to 2018 and describe the perspectives for IFN-alpha2 treatment of MPNs in the future. The mechanisms of actions are discussed and the impact of chronic inflammation as the driving force for clonal expansion and disease progression in MPNsis discussed in the context of combination therapies with potent anti-inflammatory agents, such as the JAK1-2 inhibitors (licensed only ruxolitinib) and statins as well. Interferon-alpha2 being the cornerstone treatment in MPNs and having the potential of inducing minimal residual disease (MRD) with normalization of the bone marrow and low-JAK2V617F allele burden, we believe that combination therapy with ruxolitinib may be even more efficacious and hopefully revert disease progression in many more patients to enter the path towards MRD. In patients with advanced and transforming disease towards leukemic transformation or having transformed to acute myeloid leukemia, “triple therapy” is proposed as a novel treatment modality to be tested in clinical trials combining IFN-alpha2, DNA-hypomethylator, and ruxolitinib. The rationale for this “triple therapy” is given, including the fact that even in AML, IFN-alpha2 as monotherapy may revert disease progression. We envisage a new and bright future with many more patients with MPNs obtaining MRD on the above therapies. From this stage-and even before-vaccination strategies may open a new horizon with cure being the goal for some patients.



J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 22;9(8):2334. doi: 10.3390/jcm9082334.

The Role of Inflammation and Inflammasome in Myeloproliferative Disease

Lucia Longhitano 1 , Giovanni Li Volti 1 , Cesarina Giallongo 2 , Mariarita Spampinato 1 , Ignazio Barbagallo 3 


Polycythemia vera (PV), essential thrombocythemia (ET) and primary myelofibrosis (PMF) are rare hematological conditions known as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). They are characterized for being BCR-ABLnegative malignancies and affected patients often present with symptoms which can significantly impact their quality of life. MPNs are characterized by a clonal proliferation of an abnormal hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell. In MPNs; cells of all myeloid lineages; including those involved in the immune and inflammatory response; may belong to the malignant clone thus leading to an altered immune response and an overexpression of cytokines and inflammatory receptors; further worsening chronic inflammation. Many of these cytokines; in particular, IL-1β and IL-18; are released in active form by activating the inflammasome complexes which in turn mediate the inflammatory process. Despite this; little is known about the functional effects of stem cell-driven inflammasome signaling in MPN pathogenesis. In this review we focused on the role of inflammatory pathway and inflammasome in MPN diseases. A better understanding of the inflammatory-state-driving MPNs and of the role of the inflammasome may provide new insights on possible therapeutic strategies.



Front Immunol. 2019 Jun 14;10:1373. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01373. eCollection 2019.

Platelets as Mediators of Thromboinflammation in Chronic Myeloproliferative Neoplasms

Cecilia P Marin Oyarzún 1 , Paula G Heller 1


Chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are stem cell disorders driven by mutations in JAK2, CALR, or MPLgenes and characterized by myeloid proliferation and increased blood cell counts. They encompass three closely related conditions, including essential thrombocythemia, polycythemia vera,and primary myelofibrosis. Elevated levels of cytokines released by clonal and non-clonal cells generate a chronic proinflammatory state that contributes to disease pathogenesis. Thrombosis represents the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in MPN, although paradoxically, patients may also present with a bleeding diathesis. The mechanisms leading to thrombosis are complex and multiple and include increased blood cells together with qualitative abnormalities of red cells, leukocytes, and platelets that favor a prothrombotic activated phenotype. The functional interplay between blood cells, the clotting cascade, and dysfunctional endothelium contributes to hypercoagulability and this process is perpetuated by the effect of inflammatory cytokines.In addition to their well-known function in hemostasis, platelets contribute to innate immunity and inflammation and play a key role in MPN thromboinflammatory state.In vivoplatelet activation leads to platelet aggregate formation and exposure of adhesion molecules which favor their interaction with activated neutrophils and monocytes leading to circulating platelet-leukocyte heterotypic aggregates. Platelets are recruited to the activated endothelium further enhancing the reciprocal activation of both cell types. Crosstalk between activated cells drives cytokine production, further fuelling the self-reinforcing thromboinflammatory loop. In addition, MPN platelets provide a procoagulant scaffold which triggers the coagulation cascade and platelet-derived microparticles amplify this response. Markers of platelet, leukocyte, endothelial and coagulation activation are increased in MPN patients although prospective studies are required to determine the potential value of these parameters for identifying patients at increased thrombotic risk. Thrombosis remains the main complication of MPN patients, with a high risk of recurrence despite adequate cytoreductive and antithrombotic treatment. Deeper insight into the mechanism favoring thrombosis development in this setting may lead to novel therapeutic approaches for MPN thrombosis. Considering the critical role of inflammation in the vascular risk, concomitant targeting of inflammatory pathways could potentially impact on primary or secondary prevention strategies.



Leuk Res. 2013 Feb;37(2):214-20. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2012.10.020. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Chronic inflammation as a promotor of mutagenesis in essential thrombocythemia, polycythemia vera and myelofibrosis. A human inflammation model for cancer development?

Hans Carl Hasselbalch 1

Affiliations expand


The Philadelphia-negative chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are acquired stem cell neoplasms, in which a stem cell lesion induces an autonomous proliferative advantage. In addition to the JAK2V617 mutation several other mutations have been described. Recently chronic inflammation has been proposed as a trigger and driver of clonal evolution in MPNs. Herein, it is hypothesized that sustained inflammation may elicit the stem cell insult by inducing a state of chronic oxidative stress with elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the bone marrow, thereby creating a high-risk microenvironment for induction of mutations due to the persistent inflammation-induced oxidative damage to DNA in hematopoietic cells. Alterations in the epigenome induced by the chronic inflammatory drive may likely elicit a “epigenetic switch” promoting persistent inflammation. The perspectives of chronic inflammation as the driver of mutagenesis in MPNs are discussed, including early intervention with interferon-alpha2 and potent anti-inflammatory agents (e.g. JAK1-2 inhibitors, histone deacetylase inhibitors, DNA-hypomethylators and statins) to disrupt the self-perpetuating chronic inflammation state and accordingly eliminating a potential trigger of clonal evolution and disease progression with myelofibrotic and leukemic transformation.


Haematologica. 2011 Feb;96(2):315-8. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2010.031070. Epub 2010 Dec 20.

Inflammation and thrombosis in essential thrombocythemia and polycythemia vera: different role of C-reactive protein and pentraxin 3

Tiziano Barbui 1 , Alessandra CarobbioGuido FinazziAlessandro M Vannucchi


We tested the hypothesis that levels of pentraxin high sensitivity C-reactive proteinand pentraxin 3 might be correlated with cardiovascular complications in patients with essential thrombocythemia and polycythemia vera. High sensitivity C-reactive protein and pentraxin 3 were measured in 244 consecutive essential thrombocythemia and polycythemia vera patients in whom, after a median follow up of 5.3 years (range 0-24), 68 cardiovascular events were diagnosed. The highest C-reactive protein tertile was compared with the lowest (>3 vs. <1 mg/L) and correlated with age (P=0.001), phenotype (polycythemia vera vs. essential thrombocythemia, P=0.006), cardiovascular risk factors (P=0.012) and JAK2V617F allele burden greater than 50% (P=0.003). Major thrombosis rate was higher in the highest C-reactive protein tertile (P=0.01) and lower at the highest pentraxin 3 levels (P=0.045). These associations remained significant in multivariate analyses and indicate that blood levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein and petraxin 3 independently and in opposite ways modulate the intrinsic risk of cardiovascular events in patients with myeloproliferative disorders.

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