Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm: diagnostic criteria and therapeutical approaches

Br J Haematol. 2016 Jul;174(2):188-202. doi: 10.1111/bjh.14146. Epub 2016 Jun 5.


Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a rare haematological malignancy derived from the precursors of plamacytoid dendritic cells, with an aggressive clinical course and high frequency of cutaneous and bone marrow involvement. Neoplastic cells express CD4, CD43 (also termed SPN), CD45RA and CD56 (also termed NCAM1), as well as the plasmacytoid dendritic cell-associated antigens CD123 (also termed IL3RA), BDCA-2 (also termed CD303, CLEC4E) TCL1 and CTLA1 (also termed GZMB). The median survival is only a few months as the tumour exhibits a progressive course despite initial response to chemotherapy. The best modality of treatment remains to be defined. Generally, patients receive acute leukaemia-like induction, according to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)-type or acute lymphoid leukaemia (ALL)-type regimens. The frequent neuromeningeal involvement indicates systematic pre-emptive intrathecal chemotherapy in addition to intensive chemotherapy. Allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), particularly when performed in first remission, may improve the survival. Preliminary data suggest a potential role for immunomodulatory agents and novel targeted drugs. Herein epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis and management of BPDCN will be presented. In detail, this review focuses on the therapeutic aspects of BPDCN, proposing a treatment algorithm for the management of the disease, including induction chemotherapy, allogeneic HSCT and intrathecal prophylaxis at different steps of treatment, according to compliance, biological and clinical characteristics of patients.

Keywords: acute leukaemia; blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm; chemotherapy; haematopoietic stem cell transplantation; intrathecal prophylaxis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology*
  • Disease Management
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans