Effects of MPNs on Blood Flow in the Brain

Thrombosis Risk and Blood Flow Effects with Polycythemia Vera 

CR&T funded pioneering research that studied the effects of thrombocythemia, polycythemia vera and secondary erythrocytosis (MPNs characterized by the same JAK2 gene) on blood flow in the brain.

The research, led by Dr. Chris Schaffer, Ph.D., Cornell University, was conducted in association with the bioengineering department and top researchers at Cornell University. It provided an in-depth understanding of brain circulation in people with polycythemia vera and high hematocrit levels (i.e., an abnormally high red blood cell count).

Elevated levels of hematocrit linked to polycythemia vera increases blood viscosity and inhibits blood flow to the brain, which can lead to brain cell injuries and cognitive decline. Using advanced microscopy technology, researchers measured the speed of blood flow in individual vessels in the brains of mice that have the JAK2 gene mutation—a mutation associated with polycythemia vera in humans.

This groundbreaking research provided a detailed understanding of the causes and mechanisms in the brain, including the cognitive impacts of polycythemia vera, establishing treatment guidelines and application in the treatment of other prevalent diseases such as Alzheimer’s.