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J Cutan Pathol. 1999 Nov;26(10):497-503.

CD56+ blastic transformation of chronic myeloid leukemia involving the skin.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Graz, Austria.


We report on two patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who presented blastic transformation involving the skin, with leukemic infiltrates showing unusual morphologic and immunohistologic characteristics. Both patients were elderly men with a 36-month and a 40-month history of CML, respectively. They presented with disseminated, reddish to violaceous papules and plaques (case 1), and with localized reddish nodules on the left temporal area (case 2). Concurrent features of blastic transformation in the bone marrow were observed in one patient (case 1). Histopathologic examination of skin lesions revealed similar features in both cases. There was a moderate to dense dermal infiltrate composed mainly of medium-sized atypical mononuclear myeloid precursor cells with only few relatively well-differentiated cells of the granulocytic series. Histochemical staining for naphthol-ASD-chloroacetate esterase revealed strong positivity (>50% of neoplastic cells) in case 2 and only scattered positivity (< 10% of neoplastic cells) in case 1. Immunohistologic analysis performed on paraffin-embedded sections showed in both cases variable reactivity of neoplastic cells for leucocyte common antigen (CD45), lysozyme, myeloperoxidase, CD11c, CD15, CD43, CD66, CD68, HLA-DR, and the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) CD56. A negative reaction was observed for CD3, CD34, and TdT. The immunohistologic findings were remarkably similar to those reported for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with monocytic differentiation (French-American-British [FAB] classification, subtype M4). Examination of blasts from the bone marrow performed in one patient (case 1) revealed a similar phenotype also with CD56 expression. In conclusion, our observations show that specific cutaneous infiltrates in CML may show morphologic and immunohistochemical characteristics similar to those observed in AML with monocytic differentiation. Moreover, specific cutaneous manifestations of CML may express CD56.

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