The myeloproliferative disorders (MPD) are clonal diseases that originate from a transformed stem cell and involve all myeloid lineage. The affected cells have both proliferative and functional impairment. Therefore, we evaluated and compared neutrophil function in 31 patients with polycythemia vera (PV), idiopathic myelofibrosis (MF), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and essential thrombocytosis (ET). Neutrophil chemotaxis, random migration, bactericidal activity and superoxide anion release in these patients were simultaneously compared to those of 31 healthy controls. In this study, chemotactic activity was significantly impaired in patients with PV and CML as compared to controls (M+/-SE: 42 +/- 6 vs. 69+/- 5 cells/field; p<0.005 and 47+/-7 vs. 68+/- 5; p<0.05, respectively). The assessment of the bactericidal activity of neutrophils showed no impairment in most of the patients. In the CML group, the serum had a very strong “lytic” effect on bacteria, possibly due to the high levels of serum lysozyme (22 +/- 2 microgram/ml). The superoxide anion release was found to be normal in most of the patients. Nevertheless, in 25% of PV patients the superoxide production was impaired (less than 60% of the simultaneous controls). In ET most patients had normal neutrophil function. Regarding the effect of treatment, neutrophil chemotactic activity was found to be significantly reduced in the hydrea-treated patients, as compared to the non- treated patients (p<0.001) or healthy controls (<0.0001). We conclude that disturbances in neutrophil function are present in patients with various MPDs, except ET. This probably reflects abnormal maturation of ancessors of the damaged stem cells. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that therapy itself could affect neutrophil functions. This matter should be studied more extensively. Although infections are not common in MPD disorders, they occasionally occur. It is possible that impairment in the phagocytic function contribute to the development of infections in patients with myeloproliferative disorders.
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