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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia

Reviewed September 2015

What is PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia is a form of blood cell cancer characterized by an elevated number of cells called eosinophils in the blood. These cells help fight infections by certain parasites and are involved in the inflammation associated with allergic reactions. However, these circumstances do not account for the increased number of eosinophils in PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia.

Another characteristic feature of PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia is organ damage caused by the excess eosinophils. Eosinophils release substances to aid in the immune response, but the release of excessive amounts of these substances causes damage to one or more organs, most commonly the heart, skin, lungs, or nervous system. Eosinophil-associated organ damage can lead to a heart condition known as eosinophilic endomyocardial disease, skin rashes, coughing, difficulty breathing, swelling (edema) in the lower limbs, confusion, changes in behavior, or impaired movement or sensations. People with PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia can also have an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) and elevated levels of certain chemicals called vitamin B12 and tryptase in the blood.

Some people with PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia have an increased number of other types of white blood cells, such as neutrophils or mast cells. Occasionally, people with PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia develop other blood cell cancers, such as acute myeloid leukemia or B-cell or T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia or lymphoblastic lymphoma.

PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia is often grouped with a related condition called hypereosinophilic syndrome. These two conditions have very similar signs and symptoms; however, the cause of hypereosinophilic syndrome is unknown.

How common is PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia is a rare condition; however, the exact prevalence is unknown.

What are the genetic changes related to PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia is caused by mutations in the PDGFRA gene. This condition usually occurs as a result of genetic rearrangements that fuse part of the PDGFRA gene with part of another gene. Rarely, changes in single DNA building blocks (point mutations) in the PDGFRA gene are found in people with this condition. Genetic rearrangements and point mutations affecting the PDGFRA gene are somatic mutations, which are mutations acquired during a person's lifetime that are present only in certain cells. The somatic mutation occurs initially in a single cell, which continues to grow and divide, producing a group of cells with the same mutation (a clonal population).

The most common genetic abnormality in PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia results from a deletion of genetic material from chromosome 4, which brings together part of the PDGFRA gene and part of the FIP1L1 gene, creating the FIP1L1-PDGFRA fusion gene.

The FIP1L1 gene provides instructions for a protein that plays a role in forming the genetic blueprints for making proteins (messenger RNA or mRNA).

The PDGFRA gene provides instructions for making a receptor protein that is found in the cell membrane of certain cell types. Receptor proteins have specific sites into which certain other proteins, called ligands, fit like keys into locks. When the ligand attaches (binds), the PDGFRA receptor protein is turned on (activated), which leads to activation of a series of proteins in multiple signaling pathways. These signaling pathways control many important cellular processes, such as cell growth and division (proliferation) and cell survival.

The FIP1L1-PDGFRA fusion gene (as well as other PDGFRA fusion genes) provides instructions for making a fusion protein that has the function of the normal PDGFRA protein. However, the fusion protein does not require ligand binding to be activated. Similarly, point mutations in the PDGFRA gene can result in a PDGFRA protein that is activated without ligand binding. As a result, the signaling pathways are constantly turned on (constitutively activated), which increases the proliferation and survival of cells. When the FIP1L1-PDGFRA fusion gene mutation or point mutations in the PDGFRA gene occur in blood cell precursors, the growth of eosinophils (and occasionally other blood cells, such as neutrophils and mast cells) is poorly controlled, leading to PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia. It is unclear why eosinophils are preferentially affected by this genetic change.

Related Chromosome(s)

Changes involving this chromosome are associated with PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia.

  • chromosome 4

Related Gene(s)

Changes in these genes are associated with PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia.

  • FIP1L1

Can PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia be inherited?

PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia is not inherited and occurs in people with no history of the condition in their families. Mutations that lead to a PDGFRA fusion gene and PDGFRA point mutations are somatic mutations, which means they occur during a person's lifetime and are found only in certain cells. Somatic mutations are not inherited. Males are more likely to develop PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia than females because, for unknown reasons, PDGFRA fusion genes are found more often in males.

Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

These resources address the diagnosis or management of PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia and may include treatment providers.

  • Cancer.Net: Leukemia - Eosinophilic: Treatment (
  • Genetic Testing Registry: Idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome (
  • MedlinePlus Encyclopedia: Eosinophil Count - Absolute (
  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: Hypereosinophilia (

You might also find information on the diagnosis or management of PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia in Educational resources and Patient support.

General information about the diagnosis ( and management ( of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing (, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests (

To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

You may find the following resources about PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia helpful. These materials are written for the general public.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

  • PDGFRA-associated myeloproliferative neoplasm

For more information about naming genetic conditions, see the Genetics Home Reference Condition Naming Guidelines ( and How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What if I still have specific questions about PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

Ask the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (

What glossary definitions help with understanding PDGFRA-associated chronic eosinophilic leukemia?

acute ; acute lymphoblastic leukemia ; acute myeloid leukemia ; cancer ; cell ; cell membrane ; chromosome ; chronic ; deletion ; DNA ; edema ; enlarged spleen ; eosinophils ; fusion gene ; gene ; immune response ; inflammation ; inherited ; leukemia ; ligand ; lymphoma ; mast cells ; messenger RNA ; mRNA ; mutation ; myeloid ; nervous system ; neutrophils ; population ; prevalence ; proliferation ; protein ; receptor ; RNA ; somatic mutation ; splenomegaly ; syndrome ; vitamin B12 ; white blood cells

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


  • Buitenhuis M, Verhagen LP, Cools J, Coffer PJ. Molecular mechanisms underlying FIP1L1-PDGFRA-mediated myeloproliferation. Cancer Res. 2007 Apr 15;67(8):3759-66. (
  • Cools J, DeAngelo DJ, Gotlib J, Stover EH, Legare RD, Cortes J, Kutok J, Clark J, Galinsky I, Griffin JD, Cross NC, Tefferi A, Malone J, Alam R, Schrier SL, Schmid J, Rose M, Vandenberghe P, Verhoef G, Boogaerts M, Wlodarska I, Kantarjian H, Marynen P, Coutre SE, Stone R, Gilliland DG. A tyrosine kinase created by fusion of the PDGFRA and FIP1L1 genes as a therapeutic target of imatinib in idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2003 Mar 27;348(13):1201-14. (
  • Elling C, Erben P, Walz C, Frickenhaus M, Schemionek M, Stehling M, Serve H, Cross NC, Hochhaus A, Hofmann WK, Berdel WE, Müller-Tidow C, Reiter A, Koschmieder S. Novel imatinib-sensitive PDGFRA-activating point mutations in hypereosinophilic syndrome induce growth factor independence and leukemia-like disease. Blood. 2011 Mar 10;117(10):2935-43. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-05-286757. Epub 2011 Jan 11. (
  • Fukushima K, Matsumura I, Ezoe S, Tokunaga M, Yasumi M, Satoh Y, Shibayama H, Tanaka H, Iwama A, Kanakura Y. FIP1L1-PDGFRalpha imposes eosinophil lineage commitment on hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. J Biol Chem. 2009 Mar 20;284(12):7719-32. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M807489200. Epub 2009 Jan 14. (
  • Metzgeroth G, Walz C, Score J, Siebert R, Schnittger S, Haferlach C, Popp H, Haferlach T, Erben P, Mix J, Müller MC, Beneke H, Müller L, Del Valle F, Aulitzky WE, Wittkowsky G, Schmitz N, Schulte C, Müller-Hermelink K, Hodges E, Whittaker SJ, Diecker F, Döhner H, Schuld P, Hehlmann R, Hochhaus A, Cross NC, Reiter A. Recurrent finding of the FIP1L1-PDGFRA fusion gene in eosinophilia-associated acute myeloid leukemia and lymphoblastic T-cell lymphoma. Leukemia. 2007 Jun;21(6):1183-8. Epub 2007 Mar 22. (
  • Roufosse FE, Goldman M, Cogan E. Hypereosinophilic syndromes. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2007 Sep 11;2:37. Review. (
  • Vandenberghe P, Wlodarska I, Michaux L, Zachée P, Boogaerts M, Vanstraelen D, Herregods MC, Van Hoof A, Selleslag D, Roufosse F, Maerevoet M, Verhoef G, Cools J, Gilliland DG, Hagemeijer A, Marynen P. Clinical and molecular features of FIP1L1-PDFGRA (+) chronic eosinophilic leukemias. Leukemia. 2004 Apr;18(4):734-42. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: September 2015
Published: February 8, 2016