CD56Positive Natural Killer Acute Myeloid Leukemia

CD56+ or NK cell AML is immunophenotypically very similar to CD56+ APL and demonstrates M3v morphology but lacks the t(15;17).395 The distinction between these two rare AML subtypes (4 to 6 percent of AML cases) is clinically important in that, at least in vitro, myeloid/NK leukemia lacks responsiveness to ATRA395,396 and can follow an aggressive clinical course, which correlates with the level of NK cell-mediated cytotoxic function attributable to the coexpression of CD56 and CD11a by the blasts.395 Expression of CD11a and of asialo-CD15 are reliable indicators of NK-AML in the distinction of NK-AML from APL.18

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