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Annu Rev Pathol. 2013 Jan 24;8:1-20. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathol-020712-163959. Epub 2012 Aug 6.

Pathogenesis of Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) combines in one nosological category a group of diseases that have widely disparate clinical manifestations but are all characterized by accumulation of proliferating cells with surface markers and ultrastructural features similar to cutaneous Langerhans cells (LCs). Despite this unified nosology, important questions about LCH remain unanswered. First, despite having phenotypic features of LCs, LCH cell gene-expression patterns differ from those in LCs. Although this observation suggests that LCH may arise from an earlier precursor, it is not necessarily inconsistent with the hypothesis that LCs are the cell of origin for LCH. Second, LCH's prominent inflammatory component and occasional benign clinical course suggest that LCH may not be a neoplasm. However, the demonstration that LCH cells are clonal, along with the recent discovery of activating BRAF mutations in LCH cells, strongly suggests that LCH is a neoplastic disease. These new observations point the way to rationally targeted therapies.

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