The human hematopoietic progenitor cell antigen (CD34) in vascular neoplasia

Am J Clin Pathol. 1991 Jul;96(1):25-31. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/96.1.25.


The human hematopoietic progenitor cell antigen CD34 is synthesized and expressed by early normal hematopoietic progenitor cells and by many acute leukemias. Anti-CD34 antibodies also have been reported to stain blood vessels in tissue sections, and, more recently, CD34 mRNA has been detected in vascular endothelial cells. Therefore, the authors studied the diagnostic utility of immunohistochemical CD34 antigen detection in tumors of endothelial cell derivation and compared the results with stains for von Willebrand (vW) factor. A wide variety of epithelial and mesenchymal neoplasms also were examined to assess the specificity of CD34 for vascular neoplasia. Seven cases of angiosarcoma (seven of seven), five cases of Kaposi's sarcoma (five of five), and eight cases of epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (eight of eight) were moderately to strongly positive for CD34. This reactivity was equally intense in frozen sections, alcohol-fixed tissue, and formalin-fixed specimens. In many cases, the malignant endothelial cells stained more strongly than adjacent benign endothelium. Moreover, in most cases CD34 positivity was quantitatively and qualitatively stronger than staining for vW factor. Two cases of hemangiopericytoma (two of two) were CD34 positive but stained less intensely than the angiosarcomas, Kaposi's sarcomas, or hemangioendotheliomas. Five of six cases of hemangioma also stained positively for CD34; the nonreactive tumor in this group was the only one among 28 vascular neoplasms studied that was not reactive for CD34. In comparison, 9 of the 28 vascular tumors did not stain for vW factor. Three hundred fifty-seven tumors of nonvascular derivation also were examined for CD34 antigen expression. Focal light staining was seen in one pulmonary squamous cell carcinoma; moderate to intense staining was observed in half of the epithelioid sarcomas studied (8 of 16) and in a minority of leiomyosarcomas (3 of 22). These findings indicate that CD34 is a sensitive and relatively specific marker for neoplasms of vascular origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD / analysis*
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasms
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vascular Diseases / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Biomarkers, Tumor