CD137 expression in tumor vessel walls. High correlation with malignant tumors

Am J Clin Pathol. 2001 Apr;115(4):543-9. doi: 10.1309/e343-kmyx-w3y2-10ky.


CD137 (ILA/4-1BB), a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family, and its ligand are expressed on activated T lymphocytes and on antigen-presenting cells, respectively. Via bidirectional signal transduction, this receptor-ligand system regulates the activation, proliferation, and survival of T and B lymphocytes and monocytes. We used immunohistochemical studies on human tissue samples to determine in vivo CD137 expression in nonimmune tissue samples. Strong CD137 expression was found in blood vessel walls, on the endothelial layer, and on the vascular smooth muscle cells. But in 32 healthy tissue samples examined, none contained CD137-positive vessels. Also, in benign tumors (2/14) and in inflammatory tissues (2/9) only a minority had CD137-expressing vessels. However, malignant tumors had a significantly enhanced frequency of CD137-expressing blood vessels (11/34).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / chemistry
  • Antigens, CD
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis*
  • Cell Division
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / chemistry
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 9


  • Antigens, CD
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • TNFRSF9 protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 9