ISSN: 2455-5282
Global Journal of Medical and Clinical Clinical Image
Case Study       Open Access      Peer-Reviewed

Ruxolitinib as a therapy choice for refractory pruritus in a patient with essential thrombocythemia with CALR mutation

Kubra Cerci1 and Pusem Patir2*

1Department of Internal Medicine, Antalya Training and Research Hospital, University of Health Sciences, Antalya, Turkey
2Department of Hematology, Antalya Training and Research Hospital, University of Health Sciences, Antalya, Turkey
*Corresponding author: Pusem Patir, MD, Department of Hematology, Antalya Training and Research Hospital, University of Health Sciences, Antalya, Turkey, E-mail:
Received: 02 January, 2023 |Accepted: 24 January, 2023 | Published: 25 January, 2023
Keywords: Essential thrombocythemia; Pruritus; Ruxolitinib

Cite this as

Cerci K, Patir P (2023) Ruxolitinib as a therapy choice for refractory pruritus in a patient with essential thrombocythemia with CALR mutation. Glob J Medical Clin Case Rep 10(1): 001-002. DOI: 10.17352/2455-5282.000167

Copyright License

© 2023 Cerci K, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Refractory pruritus associated with Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) is rare. Herein, we present the first report of resistant pruritus responsive to ruxolitinib in an ET patient with a calreticulin mutation.


Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) is a Chronic Myeloproliferative Neoplasm (CMPN) that leads to excessive platelet production. Cutaneous symptoms associated with ET include erythromelalgia, acrocyanosis, hematoma, ecchymosis, petechia, purpura, superficial thrombophlebitis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, livedo reticularis, microcirculatory abnormalities such as ulceration and ischemic gangrene. Other dermatologic involvements include pruritus, urticaria, and xerosis. The reported incidence of pruritus in patients with ET has varied between 3% and 46% in different studies [1,2]. Ruxolitinib decreased the expression of cytokines and growth factors required for hematopoiesis by inhibiting JAK1/2- STAT pathways, which explains the improvement in polycythemia vera-associated pruritis [3]. We report a case of calreticulin (CALR) mutated ET with refractory pruritus.


A 64-year-old man with a medical history of hypertension and hyperlipidemia presented with itching and burning in both arms and legs. On admission; hemoglobin was 17.2 g/dL, leukocytes were 15900/mm9 and platelets were 578x109/L. An increased number of platelets in large and several giant forms were seen in the peripheral blood smear. Abdominal ultrasonography showed the normal size of the liver and spleen. Molecular studies were negative for BCR/ABL1 t(9;22)(q34;q11.2), JAK2 and MPL515 mutations; CALR (type 2) mutation was positive. Bone marrow biopsy was hypercellular with no reticulin and fiber increase. After the diagnosis of ET, the patient who was using acetylsalicylic acid 81 mg/day and desloratadine 5 mg/day underwent regular phlebotomy, but hydroxyurea 500 mg twice daily was started because of persistent pruritus. Six months after using hydroxyurea; hemoglobin was 12.6 g/dL, leukocytes were 11400/mm3, platelets were 586x109/L and despite taking hydroxyurea, the patient reapplied with refractory pruritus, which significantly affected the quality of life. Thereupon, ruxolitinib (5 mg twice daily) was initiated. At the next 2-month follow-up, hemoglobin was 15.4 g/dL, leukocytes were 14500/mm3, and platelets were 583x109/L. Therewithal the patient reported complete resolution of pruritus and was very satisfied with the current treatment.


Pruritus is a common symptom in CMPN patients and different treatment modalities have been shown to be beneficial, but clinical outcomes are highly variable. Histamine, leukotrienes and interleukin-31 release from mast cells in higher amounts than normal plays a role in the pathogenesis of pruritus in CMPN [4]. Pruritus often has a major impact on the quality of life of patients with ET [5]. Treatment of ET-associated pruritus is primarily empirical. Low-dose aspirin therapy has been shown to be effective in alleviating vasomotor (microvascular) disturbances associated with ET or PV [6]. Antihistamines are often prescribed to treat this condition, but they are usually not effective.

Although both phlebotomy and hydroxyurea treatment was applied to our patient, there was no improvement in pruritus and this pruritus seriously affected the quality of life. Hence, the patient was started on low-dose ruxolitinib (5 mg twice daily). Thus, it was observed that ruxolitinib treatment was effective regardless of platelet count and can be used safely in our patients diagnosed with ET having CALR mutation and refractory pruritus.

In conclusion, we suggest that ruxolitinib, which has proven its efficacy in the treatment of PV-associated refractory pruritus, can be used as an option in the treatment of ET-associated refractory pruritus.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the patient.

Author contributions

Concept- KC, PP; Design- KC, PP; Data Collection or Processing- KC, PP; Analysis or Interpretation- KC, PP; Literature Search- KC, PP; Writing- KC, PP.

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