CD56 Natural Killer Cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

CD56-positive or NK cell ALL is a rare disease entity. In a recent ECOG database analysis, it accounted for 3 percent of adult ALL.250 In contrast with other reports reviewed in this paper,250 CD56+ ALL patients identified by ECOG expressed this NK-cell antigen on at least 90 percent of gated lymphoblasts, thus leaving no doubt regarding the suitability of this immunodiagnosis. The majority of CD56+ ALL cases present with a T-lineage immunophenotype, which is in line with the common developmental pathway of T lymphocytes and NK cells.271-273,275,278 However, the ECOG analysis unexpectedly revealed CD56 expression in two patients with unequivocal B-lineage ALL.250 Expression of B-lineage antigen in NK/T leukemia or lymphoma is an uncommon observation.355,356 A developmental link between NK and B cells has recently been established.253

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