Systemic mastocytosis in adults: 2019 update on diagnosis, risk stratification and management

Am J Hematol. 2019 Mar;94(3):363-377. doi: 10.1002/ajh.25371. Epub 2019 Jan 2.


Overview: Systemic mastocytosis (SM) results from a clonal proliferation of abnormal mast cells (MCs) in extra-cutaneous organs.

Diagnosis: The major criterion is presence of multifocal clusters of abnormal MC in the bone marrow. Minor diagnostic criteria include elevated serum tryptase level, abnormal MC CD25 expression, and presence of KITD816V mutation.

Risk stratification: Establishing SM subtype as per the World Health Organization classification system is an important first step. Broadly, patients either have indolent/smoldering SM (ISM/SSM) or advanced SM, the latter includes aggressive SM (ASM), SM with associated hematological neoplasm (SM-AHN), and mast cell leukemia (MCL). Identification of poor-risk mutations (ie, ASXL1, RUNX1, SRSF2, NRAS) further refines the risk stratification. Recently, clinical and hybrid clinical-molecular risk models have been developed to more accurately assign prognosis in SM patients.

Management: ISM patients have a normal life expectancy and treatment is generally limited to anaphylaxis prevention/symptom control/osteoporosis treatment. Patients with advanced SM frequently need MC cytoreductive therapy to ameliorate disease-related organ dysfunction. High response rates have been seen with small-molecule inhibitors that target mutant-KIT, including midostaurin (Food and Drug Administration approved) or avapritinib (investigational). Other options for MC cytoreduction include cladribine or interferon-α, although head-to-head comparisons are lacking. Treatment of SM-AHN primarily targets the AHN component, if an aggressive disease such as acute myeloid leukemia is present. Allogeneic stem cell transplant can be considered in such patients, or in those with relapsed/refractory advanced SM. Imatinib has a limited therapeutic role in SM; effective cytoreduction is limited to those with imatinib-sensitive KIT mutations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Cladribine / therapeutic use
  • Disease Management*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / classification
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / classification
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / mortality
  • Mastocytosis, Systemic / therapy*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • Risk Assessment
  • Staurosporine / analogs & derivatives
  • Staurosporine / therapeutic use
  • Survival Analysis
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Tryptases / blood
  • Tryptases / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • IL2RA protein, human
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Cladribine
  • KIT protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Tryptases
  • Staurosporine
  • midostaurin