Spectrum of clonal hematopoiesis in VEXAS syndrome

Blood. 2023 Apr 21;blood.2022018774. doi: 10.1182/blood.2022018774. Online ahead of print.


VEXAS is caused by somatic mutations in UBA1 (UBA1mut) and characterized by heterogenous systemic auto-inflammation and progressive hematologic manifestations, meeting criteria for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and plasma cell dyscrasias. The landscape of myeloid-related gene mutations leading to typical clonal hematopoiesis (CH) in these patients is unknown. Retrospectively, we screened 80 VEXAS patients for CH in their peripheral blood (PB) and correlated findings with clinical outcomes in 77. UBA1mutwere most common at hotspot p.M41 (median variant allele frequency/VAF = 75%). Typical CH mutations co-occurred with UBA1mut in 60% of patients, mostly in DNMT3A and TET2, and were not associated with inflammatory or hematologic manifestations. In prospective single-cell proteogenomic sequencing (scDNA), UBA1mutwas the dominant clone, present mostly in branched clonal trajectories. Based on integrated bulk and scDNA analyses, clonality in VEXAS followed two major patterns: with either typical CH preceding UBA1mutselection in a clone (Pattern 1), or occurring as an UBA1mutsubclone or in independent clones (Pattern 2). VAF in PB differed markedly between DNMT3A and TET2 clones (median VAF of 25% vs 1%). DNMT3A and TET2 clones associated with hierarchies representing patterns 1 and 2, respectively. Overall survival for all patients was 60% at 10 years. Transfusion-dependent anemia, moderate thrombocytopenia, and typical CH mutations, each correlated with poor outcome. In VEXAS, UBA1mut cells are the primary cause of systemic inflammation and marrow failure, being a new molecularly defined somatic entity associated with MDS. VEXAS-associated MDS is distinct from classical MDS in its presentation and clinical course.