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Leuk Lymphoma. 2015 Jan;56(1):103-12. doi: 10.3109/10428194.2014.905772. Epub 2014 May 6.

Aggressive mature natural killer cell neoplasms: report on a series of 12 European patients with emphasis on flow cytometry based immunophenotype and DNA content of neoplastic natural killer cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cytometry, Department of Hematology.


We report 12 cases of aggressive natural killer (NK) cell neoplasms diagnosed in Portugal, with emphasis on flow cytometry. Ten patients had extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, nasal type and two had aggressive NK cell leukemia, and seven were men and five were women, with a median age of 50 years. NK cells brightly expressed the CD56 adhesion molecule and CD94 lectin type killer receptor and had an activation-related HLA-DR+ CD45RA+ CD45RO+ immunophenotype, in most cases. In contrast, dim CD16 expression was found in a minor proportion of cases, whereas CD57 and the CD158a and CD158e1 killer immunoglobulin-like receptors were negative. One-third of cases showed a hyperploid DNA content and nearly all had a very high S-phase proliferative rate. The phenotypic features of the neoplastic NK cells would suggest that they represent the transformed counterpart of the CD56 + bright NK cells that circulate in normal blood.


Aggressive NK cell leukemia; CD56 + bright NK cells; DNA content and cell cycle; NK cell immunophenotyping; NK/T cell lymphoma; flow cytometry; nasal type

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