Key Points

  • CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ myeloid progenitors from BM and blood of high-risk LCH patients give rise in vitro to BRAF-mutated LC-like cells.

  • BRAF mutation–carrying cells found in blood and lesions of low-risk LCH patients are likely derived from oligopotent progenitors.

Abstract

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a myeloid neoplasia, driven by sporadic activating mutations in the MAPK pathway. The misguided myeloid dendritic cell (DC) model proposes that high-risk, multisystem, risk-organ–positive (MS-RO+) LCH results from driver mutation in a bone marrow (BM)-resident multipotent hematopoietic progenitor, while low-risk, MS-RO and single-system LCH would result from driver mutation in a circulating or tissue-resident, DC-committed precursor. We have examined the CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ myeloid progenitor population as potential mutation carrier in all LCH disease manifestations. This population contains oligopotent progenitors of monocytes (Mo’s)/macrophages (MΦs), osteoclasts (OCs), and DCs. CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ cells from BM of MS-RO+ LCH patients produced Langerhans cell (LC)-like cells in vitro. Both LC-like and DC offspring from this progenitor carried the BRAF mutation, confirming their common origin. In both high- and low-risk LCH patients, CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ progenitor frequency in blood was higher than in healthy donors. In one MS-RO+ LCH patient, CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ cell frequency in blood and its BRAF-mutated offspring reported response to chemotherapy. CD34+c-Kit+Flt3+ progenitors from blood of both high- and low-risk LCH patients gave rise to DCs and LC-like cells in vitro, but the driver mutation was not easily detectable, likely due to low frequency of mutated progenitors. Mutant BRAF alleles were found in Mo’s /MΦs, DCs, LC-like cells, and/or OC-like cells in lesions and/or Mo and DCs in blood of multiple low-risk patients. We therefore hypothesize that in both high- and low-risk LCH, the driver mutation is present in a BM-resident myeloid progenitor that can be mobilized to the blood.

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