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Blood. 2008 Apr 1;111(7):3778-92. doi: 10.1182/blood-2007-10-117531. Epub 2008 Jan 24.

Novel markers of normal and neoplastic human plasmacytoid dendritic cells.

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  • 1Leukaemia Research Fund Immunodiagnostics Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK. teresa.marafioti@ndcls.ox.ac.uk


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are involved in innate immunity (eg, by secreting interferons) and also give rise to CD4+CD56+ hematodermic neoplasms. We report extensive characterization of human pDCs in routine tissue samples, documenting the expression of 19 immunohistologic markers, including signaling molecules (eg, BLNK), transcription factors (eg, ICSBP/IRF8 and PU.1), and Toll-like receptors (TLR7, TLR9). Many of these molecules are expressed in other cell types (principally B cells), but the adaptor protein CD2AP was essentially restricted to pDCs, and is therefore a novel immunohistologic marker for use in tissue biopsies. We found little evidence for activation-associated morphologic or phenotypic changes in conditions where pDCs are greatly increased (eg, Kikuchi disease). Most of the molecules were retained in the majority of pDC neoplasms, and 3 (BCL11A, CD2AP, and ICSBP/IRF8) were also commonly negative in leukemia cutis (acute myeloid leukemia in the skin), a tumor that may mimic pDC neoplasia. In summary, we have documented a range of molecules (notably those associated with B cells) expressed by pDCs in tissues and peripheral blood (where pDCs were detectable in cytospins at a frequency of <1% of mononuclear cells) and also defined potential new markers (in particular CD2AP) for the diagnosis of pDC tumors.

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