Background: Myelofibrosis (MF) is the most aggressive Philadelphia-negative chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) with high morbidity and mortality due to thrombo-hemorrhagic complications and leukemic transformation. MF is characterized by profound alterations of megakaryocytopoiesis, with consequent abnormalities in platelet number and function. We recently showed that the overexpression of the oncoprotein PKCepsilon plays a key role in the aberrant differentiation of MF megakaryocyte clone and that its levels correlate with disease burden. Moreover, our group previously demonstrated that PKCepsilon is over-expressed in platelets from patients with acute myocardial infarction (MI) and accounts for their increased reactivity. On these bases, we investigated here the activation state and PKCepsilon expression of MF platelets, testing potential correlations with thrombotic risk and disease aggressiveness. Methods: Platelets were isolated from peripheral blood samples of MF patients and healthy donors (HDs). Patients were stratified according to the IPSS/DIPSS risk category and history of cardiovascular events. Platelet activation was assessed by flow cytometry. PKCepsilon mRNA and protein levels were determined by real time-PCR and western blot. Results: MF platelets circulate in an activated status and display significantly higher levels of PKCepsilon compared to HDs. In MF patients, PKCepsilon platelet levels were associated with high-risk disease as well as with a positive history of major cardiovascular events. Conclusions: PKCepsilon is configuring as the common denominator of neoplastic transformation and thrombus formation in MF. Overall, our data pinpoint PKCepsilon as a potential novel biomarker of disease aggressiveness and thrombotic risk in this hematologic neoplasm.
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