Diagnostic capabilities, clinical features, and longitudinal UBA1 clonal dynamics of a nationwide VEXAS cohort

Am J Hematol. 2024 Feb;99(2):254-262. doi: 10.1002/ajh.27169. Epub 2023 Dec 18.


VEXAS is a prototypic hemato-inflammatory disease combining rheumatologic and hematologic disorders in a molecularly defined nosological entity. In this nationwide study, we aimed at screenshotting the current diagnostic capabilities and clinical-genomic features of VEXAS, and tracked UBA1 longitudinal clonal dynamics upon different therapeutics, including allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant. We leveraged a collaboration between the Italian Society of Experimental Hematology and of Rheumatology and disseminated a national survey to collect clinical and molecular patient information. Overall, 13/29 centers performed UBA1 genomic testing locally, including Sanger sequencing (46%), next-generation sequencing (23%), droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (8%), or combination (23%). A total of 41 male patients were identified, majority (51%) with threonine substitutions at Met41 hotspot, followed by valine and leucine (27% and 8%). Median age at VEXAS diagnosis was 67 years. All patients displayed anemia (median hemoglobin 9.1 g/dL), with macrocytosis. Bone marrow vacuoles were observed in most cases (89%). The most common rheumatologic association was polychondritis (49%). A concomitant myelodysplastic neoplasm/syndrome (MDS) was diagnosed in 71% of patients (n = 28), chiefly exhibiting lower Revised International Prognostic Scoring System risk profiles. Karyotype was normal in all patients, except three MDS cases showing -Y, t(12;16)(q13;q24), and +8. The most frequently mutated gene was DNMT3A (n = 10), followed by TET2 (n = 3). At last follow-up, five patients died and two patients progressed to acute leukemia. Longitudinal UBA1 clonal dynamics demonstrated mutational clearance following transplant. We collected a nationwide interdisciplinary VEXAS patient cohort, characterized by heterogeneous rheumatologic manifestations and treatments used. MDS was diagnosed in 71% of cases. Patients exhibited various longitudinal UBA1 clonal dynamics.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia*
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes* / diagnosis
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes* / genetics
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes* / therapy
  • Skin Diseases, Genetic*

Supplementary concepts

  • VEXAS syndrome