The field of Philadelphia-chromosome-negative chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) has recently witnessed tremendous advances in the basic knowledge of disease pathophysiology that followed the identification of mutations in JAK2 and MPL. These discoveries led to a revision of the criteria employed for diagnosis by the World Health Organization. The prognostic role of the JAK2V617F mutation and of its allelic burden has been the objective of intensive research using a variety of cellular and animal models as well as in large series of patients. While a definitive position cannot yet been taken on all of the issues, there is a consensus that the presence of higher V617F allele burden, that is on the basis of a stronger activation of intracellular signalling pathways, is associated with the clinical phenotype of polycythemia vera and with defined haematological and clinical markers indicative of a more aggressive phenotype. On the other hand, a low allele burden in myelofibrosis is associated with reduced survival. Finally, a significant reduction of JAK2 V617F allele burden has been demonstrated in patients treated with interferon, while the effects of novel JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitors have not yet been fully ascertained.
Keywords: JAK2; mutations; myeloproliferative neoplasms; prognosis; therapy.