Hematopoietic cells are instrumental in generating and propagating protective inflammatory responses to infection or injury. However, excessive inflammation contributes to many diseases of the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. We review three clinical categories of hematological inflammatory diseases in which recent clinical and translational advances have been made. The first category is monogenic inflammatory diseases. Genotype-driven research has revealed that previously mysterious diseases with protean manifestations are characterized by mutations that may be germline (e.g., deficiency of ADA2 or GATA2 deficiency) or somatic [e.g., vacuoles, enzyme E1, X-linked, autoinflammatory, somatic (VEXAS) syndrome]. The second category is the cytokine storm syndromes, including hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, and Castleman disease. Cytokine storm syndromes are characterized by excessive production of inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-6 and interferon-γ, causing end-organ damage and high mortality. Finally, we review disorders associated with monoclonal and polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia. The serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP) is typically ordered to screen for common diseases such as myeloma and humoral immunodeficiency. However, monoclonal and polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia on SPEP can also provide important information in rare inflammatory diseases. For example, the autoinflammatory disease Schnitzler syndrome is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Although this orphan disease has eluded precise genetic or histological characterization, the presence of a monoclonal paraprotein, typically IgM, is an obligate diagnostic criterion. Likewise, polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia may be an important early, noninvasive diagnostic clue for patients presenting with rare neoplastic diseases such as Rosai-Dorfman disease and angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. Applying these three categories to patients with unexplained inflammatory syndromes can facilitate the diagnosis of rare and underrecognized diseases.
Keywords: VEXAS syndrome; cytokine storm syndrome; hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis; monoclonal gammopathy of clinical significance; polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia.