Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm: Update on molecular biology, diagnosis, and therapy

Wasif Riaz, Ling Zhang, Pedro Horna, Lubomir Sokol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a rare hematological malignancy with an aggressive clinical course. Most patients with BPDCN have skin lesions and simultaneous involvement of the peripheral blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.

Methods: A search of PubMed and Medline was conducted for English-written articles relating to BPDCN, CD4+CD56+ hematodermic neoplasm, and blastic natural killer cell lymphoma. Data regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment were analyzed.

Conclusions: BPDCN is a rare aggressive disease that typically affects elderly patients. The most commonly affected nonhematopoietic organ is the skin. Although BPDCN is initially sensitive to conventional chemotherapy regimens, this response is relatively short and long-term prognosis is poor. In the near future, novel targeted therapies may improve outcomes for patients with BPDCN.

Results: BPDCN is derived from precursor plasmacytoid dendritic cells. The diagnosis of BPDCN is based on the characteristic cytology and immunophenotype of malignant cells coexpressing CD4, CD56, CD123, blood dendritic cell antigens 2 and 4, and CD2AP markers. Multiple chromosomal abnormalities and gene mutations previously reported in patients with myeloid and selected lymphoid neoplasms were identified in approximately 60% of patients with BPDCN. Prospectively controlled studies to guide treatment decisions are lacking. The overall response rate with aggressive acute lymphoblastic leukemia–type induction regimens was as high as 90%, but the durability of response was short. Median survival rates ranged between 12 and 16 months. Patients with relapsed disease may respond to L-asparaginase–containing regimens. Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, particularly when performed during the first remission, may produce durable remissions in selected adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Control
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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