Utility of the World Heath Organization classification criteria for the diagnosis of systemic mastocytosis in bone marrow.
In the World Health Organization classification, one major and four minor criteria are specified for the diagnosis of systemic mastocytosis. We report our experience using these criteria to diagnose systemic mastocytosis involving bone marrow. A total of 59 patients with clinically suspected systemic mastocytosis underwent comprehensive bone marrow examination, including immunophenotyping by immunohistochemistry and/or flow cytometry and molecular studies for KIT exon 17 mutations. Serum tryptase levels were also assessed. Of these 59, 53 (90%) patients met the diagnostic criteria for systemic mastocytosis. In these patients, multifocal dense infiltrates of mast cells, the major criterion, was observed in 36 (68%) patients. Atypical mast cell morphology was observed in 53 (100%), an aberrant immunophenotype was identified in 50 of 52 (96%), KIT mutation was present in 33 of 44 (75%), and an elevated serum tryptase (>20 ng/ml) was detected in 44 of 52 (85%). In the six patients in which bone marrow examination could not confirm systemic mastocytosis, one had systemic mastocytosis involving spleen, one patient had chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis, and four had no specific diagnosis, but systemic mastocytosis was still considered most likely. Of these six patients, atypical mast cell morphology was identified in five, aberrant immunophenotype in five, KIT mutation in two, and elevated serum tryptase in two. None of these cases met the major criteria. We conclude that the World Health Organization criteria are useful for the diagnosis of systemic mastocytosis in bone marrow specimens. The results also show the relative values of traditional morphologic criteria (ie, major criterion) and the results of ancillary testing (ie, minor criteria). However, as illustrated by the case of splenic systemic mastocytosis as well as the patient with chronic idiopathic myelofibrosis, the current World Health Organization system is neither completely sensitive nor specific for systemic mastocytosis.