The serum concentration of the aminoterminal propeptide of type III procollagen (PIIINP) was measured serially in patients with idiopathic myelofibrosis and other myeloproliferative syndromes. Two different assays were applied, the RIA-gnost assay (Hoechst, Frankfurt, FRG) and a new equilibrium RIA for the N-terminal propeptide of human type III procollagen (Farmos Diagnostica, Oulu, Finland).
A positive correlation was found between the results obtained by the two RIA's (rho = 0.90. P < 0.001). The highest propeptide levels were recorded in patients with idiopathic myelofibrosis, particularly in those with active disease. Elevated serum PIIINP levels decreased during treatment with various cytotoxic drugs, including intensive chemotherapy. By contrast, serum PIIINP was unchanged or increased in patients undergoing interferon alpha-2b therapy.
Gel filtration of sera on Sephacryl S-300 column (Pharmacia, Sweden) showed that smaller PIIINP related peptides dominated in healthy subjects and in osteomyelosclerosis with stable disease. Conversely, the relative proportion of intact propeptide increased in accelerating disease stages and acute myelofibrosis.
In conclusion, the present study implicates serum PIIINP as a useful indicator of disease activity in idiopathic myelofibrosis. The propeptide also appears to be a sensitive sero-marker of chemotherapy effect on fibrogenesis related to clonal myeloproliferation. Finally, the propeptide is suggested as an early predictor of relapse during cytotoxic therapy.