CD123, CD4, CD56

BPDCN marker triad

Cell surface markers: vital to navigating hematologic cancer diagnosis

Cell surface markers are a critical diagnostic factor in identifying cancers, especially hematologic malignancies. While these markers may overlap amongst different cancers, unique combinations can identify a cancer and offer potential therapeutic targets. Once uncovered, they allow for precise and rapid diagnosis.1,2

These immunophenotypes can be identified via immunohistochemistry or flow cytometry. Diagnosis of blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is multifaceted and must demonstrate the presence of markers specific to plasmacytoid dendritic cells, such as CD123.2

The CD123 marker is expressed by a number of hematologic cancers, including BPDCN.3

CD123, in combination with CD4 and CD56, completes a signature marker triad that can define BPDCN. Including CD123 in diagnostic panels could make a meaningful difference in early diagnosis and proper medical intervention. Other diagnostic markers may include TCL1 and CD303.1,2,4

CD123 should be considered in every hematologic diagnostic panel.2


  1. Reichard KK. Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm: how do you distinguish it from acute myeloid leukemia? Surg Pathol Clin. 2013;6(4):743-765.
  2. Pagano L, Valentini CG, Grammatico S, Pulsoni A. Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm: diagnostic criteria and therapeutical approaches. Br J Haematol. 2016;174(2):188-202.
  3. Laribi K, Denizon N, Besançon A, et al. Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm: from origin of the cell to targeted therapies. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2016;22(8):1357-1367.
  4. Facchetti F, Cigognetti M, Fisogni S, Rossi G, Lonardi S, Vermi W. Neoplasms derived from plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Mod Pathol. 2016;29(2):98-111.