Janus Kinase V617F mutation in cigarette smokers

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The JAK2 V617F mutation is responsible for the constitutive activation of the erythropoietin receptor signaling pathway in most cases of polycythemia vera (PV). The mutation has also been described in healthy people. As smoking may result in secondary polycythemia, the goal of this trial was to examine the effect of smoking on the prevalence of the JAK2 mutation and its correlation to erythrocytosis. The study was case–control. Hospitalized smokers (n= 81) and nonsmokers (n= 61) were recruited. Serum was drawn for complete blood count, erythropoietin, ferritin and venous blood gases. JAK2 mutation was analyzed by highly sensitive allele-specific Quantitative Real Time PCR. The JAK2 mutation was found in 29/81 (35.8%) of smokers in comparison to only 9/61 (14.8%) of the control group (P= 0.007). The frequency of the mutation among smokers who were positive for the JAK2 mutation had a mean of 6.78 × 10−4 ± 1.08 × 10−3 vs. 1.51 × 10−4 ± 2.04 × 10−4 among nonsmokers (P= 0.027). Both frequencies are much lower than those found in PV. There was a medium correlation between older age and mutation frequency in nonsmokers (r= 0.67,P= 0.043). Hematocrit was higher in smokers (47.8 ± 6 vs. 41.7 ± 4.7,P< 0.0001), but no correlation was found to JAK2 mutation. In a cohort of hospitalized smokers and nonsmokers, JAK2 mutation was more prevalent and found in higher frequencies among smokers than nonsmokers. We suggest that accelerated erythropoiesis renders the cells susceptible to JAK2 mutation.

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