Cutaneous manifestations of blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm-morphologic and phenotypic variability in a series of 33 patients

Carlo Cota, Esmeralda Vale, Isabel Viana, Luis Requena, Gerardo Ferrara, Lucia Anemona, Dieter Metze, Regina Fink-Puches, Thomas Wiesner, Lorenzo Cerroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a neoplasm derived from precursors of plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Cutaneous involvement represents often the first manifestation of the disease. We studied 45 skin biopsies from 33 patients (M:F=7.25:1; median age: 71 y; age range: 30 to 89) with BPDCN to delineate histopathologic and immunophenotypic features of this disease. Patients presented with generalized (n=18), localized (n=6), or solitary (n=9) macules, plaques, and/or tumors. Staging investigations at presentation were negative in 20 patients. Unusual histologic features included a perivascular/periadnexal pattern (6 biopsies from 4 patients) and the presence of pleomorphism of neoplastic cells with blastoid cells admixed with elongated, twisted, or hyperchromatic cells (observed in 24 specimens). Negativity of 1 among the 4 markers CD4, CD56, CD123, and TCL-1 was seen in 11 biopsies, and of 2 markers in 4 biopsies. Staining for CD68 revealed positivity of the majority of cells in 1 and of scattered cells in 24/37 stained cases. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase was observed in 22/37 stained cases. Staining for Bcl-6, MUM-1 and FOX-P1 revealed positivity of a variable proportion of neoplastic cells in 16/30, 19/29, and 21/23 cases, respectively. Our study shows that cutaneous lesions of BPDCN display a greater variability of morphologic and phenotypic features than recognized earlier. Discrete perivascular infiltrates, pleomorphic morphology of neoplastic cells, and unusual phenotypic profiles may be the source of diagnostic pitfalls. These atypical variants should be recognized to make an early diagnosis and to manage properly patients with this aggressive hematological disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-87
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm
  • CD4+/CD56
  • Hematodermic neoplasm
  • Phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Medicine(all)


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