Severe congenital neutropenias are a heterogeneous group of rare haematological diseases characterized by impaired maturation of neutrophil granulocytes. Patients with severe congenital neutropenia are prone to recurrent, often life-threatening infections beginning in their first months of life. The most frequent pathogenic defects are autosomal dominant mutations in ELANE, which encodes neutrophil elastase, and autosomal recessive mutations in HAX1, whose product contributes to the activation of the granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) signalling pathway. The pathophysiological mechanisms of these conditions are the object of extensive research and are not fully understood. Furthermore, severe congenital neutropenias may predispose to myelodysplastic syndromes or acute myeloid leukaemia. Molecular events in the malignant progression include acquired mutations in CSF3R (encoding G-CSF receptor) and subsequently in other leukaemia-associated genes (such as RUNX1) in a majority of patients. Diagnosis is based on clinical manifestations, blood neutrophil count, bone marrow examination and genetic and immunological analyses. Daily subcutaneous G-CSF administration is the treatment of choice and leads to a substantial increase in blood neutrophil count, reduction of infections and drastic improvement of quality of life. Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the alternative treatment. Regular clinical assessments (including yearly bone marrow examinations) to monitor treatment course and detect chromosomal abnormalities (for example, monosomy 7 and trisomy 21) as well as somatic pre-leukaemic mutations are recommended.
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This manuscript is dedicated to the late Dr L. Boxer, a pioneer of neutropenia research. The work was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), the Deutsche Jose-Carreras Leukämie-Stiftung e.V., the Excellence Initiative of the Tuebingen University, Volkswagen foundation, Madeleine Schickedanz-KinderKrebs-Stiftung and the Amgen Foundation.
D.C.D. is a consultant and receives research support from Amgen, a manufacturer of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) used to treat neutropenia. All other authors declare no competing interests.
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Skokowa, J., Dale, D., Touw, I. et al. Severe congenital neutropenias. Nat Rev Dis Primers 3, 17032 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrdp.2017.32
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