Mutational spectrum and dynamics of clonal hematopoiesis in anemia of older individuals

Isabelle A van Zeventer, Aniek O de Graaf, Hanneke J C M Wouters, Bert A van der Reijden, Melanie M van der Klauw, Theo de Witte, Marianne A Jonker, Luca Malcovati, Joop H Jansen, Gerwin Huls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Anemia is a major and currently poorly understood clinical manifestation of hematopoietic aging. Upon aging, hematopoietic clones harboring acquired leukemia-associated mutations expand and become detectable, now referred to as clonal hematopoiesis (CH). To investigate the relationship between CH and anemia of the elderly, we explored the landscape and dynamics of CH in older individuals with anemia. From the prospective, population-based Lifelines cohort (n = 167 729), we selected all individuals at least 60 years old who have anemia according to World Health Organization criteria (n = 676) and 1:1 matched control participants. Peripheral blood of 1298 individuals was analyzed for acquired mutations at a variant allele frequency (VAF) of 1% or higher in 27 driver genes. To track clonal evolution over time, we included all available follow-up samples (n = 943). CH was more frequently detected in individuals with anemia (46.6%) compared with control individuals (39.1%; P = .007). Although no differences were observed regarding commonly detected DTA mutations (DNMT3A, TET2, ASXL1) in individuals with anemia compared with control individuals, other mutations were enriched in the anemia cohort, including TP53 and SF3B1. Unlike individuals with nutrient deficiency (P = .84), individuals with anemia of chronic inflammation and unexplained anemia revealed a higher prevalence of CH (P = .035 and P = .017, respectively) compared with their matched control individuals. Follow-up analyses revealed that clones may expand and decline, generally showing only a subtle increase in VAF (mean, 0.56%) over the course of 44 months, irrespective of the presence of anemia. Specific mutations were associated with different growth rates and propensities to acquire an additional hit. In contrast to smaller clones (<5% VAF), which did not affect overall survival, larger clones were associated with increased risk for death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1170
Number of pages10
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2-Apr-2020


  • DNMT3A
  • RISK

Cite this