Mast cell leukemia

Blood. 2013 Feb 21;121(8):1285-95. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-07-442400. Epub 2012 Dec 14.


Mast cell leukemia (MCL) is a very rare form of aggressive systemic mastocytosis accounting for < 1% of all mastocytosis. It may appear de novo or secondary to previous mastocytosis and shares more clinicopathologic aspects with systemic mastocytosis than with acute myeloid leukemia. Symptoms of mast cell activation-involvement of the liver, spleen, peritoneum, bones, and marrow-are frequent. Diagnosis is based on the presence of ≥ 20% atypical mast cells in the marrow or ≥ 10% in the blood; however, an aleukemic variant is frequently encountered in which the number of circulating mast cells is < 10%. The common phenotypic features of pathologic mast cells encountered in most forms of mastocytosis are unreliable in MCL. Unexpectedly, non-KIT D816V mutations are frequent and therefore, complete gene sequencing is necessary. Therapy usually fails and the median survival time is < 6 months. The role of combination therapies and bone marrow transplantation needs further investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Mast-Cell / mortality
  • Leukemia, Mast-Cell / pathology*
  • Leukemia, Mast-Cell / therapy*
  • Mast Cells / pathology*
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / mortality
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / pathology
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / therapy