Leukocyte antigen CD34 is expressed by a subset of cultured endothelial cells and on endothelial abluminal microprocesses in the tumor stroma

Lab Invest. 1990 Jun;62(6):690-6.


It has been reported that the human haemopoietic progenitor cell antigen CD34 is also expressed by vascular structures. To investigate its precise vascular localization, we have studied the cellular and subcellular distribution of CD34 in normal tissues and pathologic tissues with neovascularization. In normal resting tissues, anti-CD34 antibodies, ICH3 and QBEND-10 predominantly stain the luminal endothelial membrane, whereas the abluminal membrane is negative or weakly positive. In contrast, a striking staining of endothelial abluminal microprocesses (EAM) was found in the tumor stroma. These structures, measuring up to 20 microns in length, could be observed in thick vibratome sections both at the tips of vascular sprouts and, also frequently, on fully formed microvessels. The number of vascular sprouts and EAM varied widely between different tumors. CD34-stained EAM were sparsely present in fetal tissue of 10 weeks gestation, but they could not be demonstrated in granulation tissue of wound healing. By immunoelectron microscopy, the EAM were continuous with the cytoplasm of endothelial cells showing an immature phenotype as seen in regeneration. In cultured human umbilical vein endothelium, CD34 was preferentially found on a small subset of cells with the morphologic appearance of migrating cells. These findings suggest that CD34 is an endothelial marker for EAM present during angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Antigens, Differentiation / immunology*
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Umbilical Veins / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Antigens, Surface