An acute leukemia with an unusual immunophenotype developed in a 17-year-old girl. At the initial presentation, extramedullary involvement was not evident, but with advancing disease, massive splenomegaly and an osteolytic rib tumor developed. The disease was aggressive and refractory to intensive chemotherapeutic regimens for myeloid and lymphoid malignancies, and the patient died 3 months after the initial presentation. The leukemic cells were of irregular shape and variable size; they had deeply indented or bi-lobed nuclei and relatively fine, azurophilic granules in their cytoplasm. They were positive for acid phosphatase and β-glucuronidase in granular staining, but they were negative for myeloperoxidase. The leukemic cells had a unique immunophenotype: it was positive for T-cell antigens (CD1a, CD2, cytoplasmic CD3, CD4), myeloid antigens (CD13 and CD33), NK-cell antigen (CD56), CD19 and CD30. DNA analysis revealed no gene rearrangement in the T-cell receptor β, γ and δ, or immunoglobulin heavy chain genes. The leukemic cells of our patient are thought to have arisen from the transformation of a putative precursor cell common to both the T- and NK-cell lineage in the bone marrow. The current literature on precursor NK-cell malignancy is reviewed, and its clinicopathological feature is discussed.
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