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Expression of T/NK-Cell and Plasma Cell Antigens in Nonhematopoietic Epithelioid Neoplasms
An Immunohistochemical Study of 447 Cases

Peiguo G. Chu MD, PhD, Daniel A. Arber MD, Lawrence M. Weiss MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/48KC17WAU69BTBXQ 64-70 First published online: 1 July 2003


We studied the expression of CD2, CD3, CD4, CD5, CD7, CD8, CD56, and CD138 in 447 cases of common human neoplasms with epithelioid features. CD2, CD3, CD4, and CD8 antigens were detected in none of 447 cases of nonhematopoietic tumors. CD5 and CD7 antigens were expressed in 12.3% and 19.5% of cases of nonhematopoietic tumors, respectively. Their expression was found primarily in adenocarcinomas from the gastrointestinal tract, breast, and female reproductive organs. The high expression of CD5 and CD7 antigen in pancreatic ductal carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma and high expression of CD7 in epithelioid sarcoma may have diagnostic value. One quarter of cases were positive for CD56. Overexpression of CD56 antigen was detected mainly in neuroendocrine tumors or adenocarcinomas with neuroendocrine differentiation. Its consistent overexpression in adrenal cortical and thyroid tumors may have diagnostic usefulness. Virtually all tumor types studied were CD138+ with a variable positivity rate. The negative staining of CD138 in malignant mesothelioma may be useful for separating mesothelioma from metastatic adenocarcinoma.

Key Words:
  • CD5
  • CD7
  • CD56
  • CD138
  • Carcinomas
  • Immunohistochemistry