Monday, September 19, 2011

The Differentiation in Undifferentiated Leukemia

Ooh, ooh, ooh! Very excited to find this chart! Boy, does that explain some things!

The caption on the chart at Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology, where I got this, reads, "Origin and differentiation of cells of the immune system."

And please note that it was Hannah, home schooling with the kids, not me, who happened to be leisurely browsing an article entitled "Immune Defense Against Bacterial Pathogens: Adaptive or Acquired Immunity."

Anyway, so this is what the "undifferentiated" in my "Undifferentiated Acute Leukemia" stands for.

Let me explain.

This chart shows how immune system cells "differentiate." They start as stem cells—hematopoietic, or blood stem cells, rather than infant stem cells, which can become any cell in the body—then split into either lymphoid or myeloid cells. These lymphoid cells become lymphocytes, the killers of the blood stream, and the myeloid cells become all those other cells listed in the chart.

The two major types of acute leukemia are Acute Lymphoid Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).

The reason that my leukemia is "undifferentiated" is because my blood stem cells were stopping before they ever "diffentiated" into lymphoid or myeloid cells. Thus, my leukemia was neither ALL nor AML.

Final picture: What happens is that a blood cell stops developing, but then divides and forgets how to die when it's supposed to. This mutated cell, called a blast because it is not a fully grown cell (thus the word "Blastic" in Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm), then proliferates through the bone marrow and blood stream, preventing normal development of other cells and normal operation of the blood and lymph system. Mine stop before they split into lymphoid or myeloid cells, while most leukemias run into the problem somewhere after that split.

I don't know how many of you are interested in that kind of thing, but it was a neat picture for me.

Good day to you!


  1. you guys are my favorite geeks. :-D

  2. How strange. Have the doctors said how common/uncommon your version of leukemia is? How interesting to have a disease so unique.

  3. I overheard Dr. Greer telling his interns that my case was "rare and unusual." Dr. Strickland keeps telling me there's no data for my situation.

    My original diagnosis of Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm has maybe 200 cases (ever, in the whole world) since they identified it around 2001. My undifferentiated leukemia resembles that.

    Final note: After massive searching on the internet, I found one statistic on AUL. It says it represents 5% of AML cases, and there's about 12,000 AML cases per year. So that would be 600 cases per year or so.

  4. very interesting allows me to see where everything goes wrong and its very weird how they have all those odd names

  5. True, Manu. There's some odd names. Quarks have odder names, though. I like the strange and charmed quarks, and both are official scientific names!

  6. You have certainly researched this rare cancer. I was just diagnosed with the same Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN).

    You have helped me more in this blog than I was coming up with in many searches. Thank you for what you have done. It helps!

  7. That's great to hear, ja! I'm glad I could be of help. Now I need to add the pages I wrote on BPDCN and bone marrow transplants to this blog as well. I'll do that in the next couple days.

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  9. Very good topic, similar texts are I do not know if they are as good as your work out. car phone mount