Immunophenotypic characterization of bone marrow mast cells in mastocytosis and other mast cell disorders.
Mastocytosis is a term used to designate a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by an abnormal proliferation and accumulation of mast cells (MCs) in one or multiple tissues including skin, bone marrow (BM), liver, spleen, and lymph nodes, among others. Recent advances in our understanding of mast cell biology and disease resulted in the identification of important differences in the expression of mast cell surface antigens between normal and neoplastic mast cells. Most notably, detection of aberrant expression of CD25 and CD2 on the surface of neoplastic mast cells but not on their normal counterparts lead to the inclusion of this immunophenotypic abnormality in the World Health Organization diagnostic criteria for systemic mastocytosis. Aberrant mast cell surface marker expression can be detected in the bone marrow aspirate by flow cytometry, even in patients lacking histopathologically detectable aggregates of mast cells in bone marrow biopsy sections. These aberrant immunophenotypic features are of great relevance for the assessment of tissue involvement in mastocytosis with consequences in the diagnosis, classification, and follow-up of the disease and in its differential diagnosis with other entities. In this chapter, we provide the reader with information for the objective and reproducible identification of pathologic MCs by using quantitative multiparametric flow cytometry, for their phenotypic characterization, and the criteria currently used for correct interpretation of the immunophenotypic results obtained.
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