True erythrocytosis is present when the red cell mass is greater than 125% of predicted sex and body mass, which is reflected by elevated hemoglobin and hematocrit. Erythrocytosis can be primary or secondary and congenital or acquired. Congenital defects are often found in those diagnosed at a young age and with a family history of erythrocytosis. Primary congenital defects mainly include mutations in the Erythropoietin receptor gene but SH2B3 has also been implicated. Secondary congenital erythrocytosis can arise through a variety of genetic mechanisms, including mutations in the genes in the oxygen sensing pathway, with high oxygen affinity hemoglobin variants and mutations in other genes such as BPMG, where ultimately the production of erythropoietin is increased, resulting in erythrocytosis. Recently, mutations in PIEZ01 have been associated with erythrocytosis. In many cases, a genetic variant cannot be identified, leaving a group of patients with the label idiopathic erythrocytosis who should be the subject of future investigations. The clinical course in congenital erythrocytosis is hard to evaluate as these are rare cases. However, some of these patients may well present at a young age and with sometimes catastrophic thromboembolic events. There is little evidence to guide the management of congenital erythrocytosis but the use of venesection and low dose aspirin should be considered.
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- oxygen sensing pathway
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