CD123 as a biomarker in hematolymphoid malignancies: Principles of detection and targeted therapies

Hanadi El Achi, Edouard Dupont, Shilpa Paul, Joseph D. Khoury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


CD123, the α chain of the interleukin 3 receptor, is a cytokine receptor that is overexpressed in multiple hematolymphoid neoplasms, including acute myeloid leukemia, blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, and systemic mastocytosis. Importantly, CD123 expression is upregulated in leukemic stem cells relative to non-neoplastic hematopoietic stem cells, which makes it a useful diagnostic and therapeutic biomarker in hematologic malignancies. Varying levels of evidence have shown that CD123-targeted therapy represents a promising therapeutic approach in several cancers. Tagraxofusp, an anti-CD123 antibody conjugated to a diphtheria toxin, has been approved for use in patients with blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm. Multiple clinical trials are investigating the use of various CD123-targeting agents, including chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells (expressing CD123, monoclonal antibodies, combined CD3-CD123 dual-affinity retargeting antibody therapy, recombinant fusion proteins, and CD123-engager T cells. In this review, we provide an overview of laboratory techniques used to evaluate and monitor CD123 expression, describe the strengths and limitations of detecting this biomarker in guiding therapy decisions, and provide an overview of the pharmacologic principles and strategies used in CD123-targeted therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3087
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker
  • CD123
  • Flow cytometry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Targeted therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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