CD56 expression is associated with neuroectodermal differentiation in ameloblastomas: an immunohistochemical evaluation in comparison with odontogenic cystic lesions

Med Mol Morphol. 2011 Jun;44(2):79-85. doi: 10.1007/s00795-010-0510-7. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


Ameloblastoma (AB), which is the most common odontogenic tumor, may originate from the dental lamina remnants. The expression of CD56, which is a transmembrane molecule, is associated with neuroectodermal differentiation of the embryonal cells. The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression of CD56 in AB, in comparison with other odontogenic cysts. We used formalin-fixed, paraffi n-embedded specimens from 34 cases of AB, 10 cases of keratocystic odontogenic tumor (KCOT), and 7 cases of dentigerous cyst (DC). We immunohistochemically examined CD56, NeuroD1, and N-cadherin expression in these tumors as compared with the expression patterns of various epithelial markers. Seventy-four percent of AB showed immunopositivity for CD56, and both CD56 and N-cadherin were diffusely positive in the outer columnar cells of AB. The immunopositivities for NeuroD1 and N-cadherin were also observed in the outer cells of AB. None of the DC cases was positive for CD56, whereas half the cases of KCOT were positive. Because CD56 is expressed in the inner enamel epithelium of enamel organs, the outer columnar cells of AB are likely to be the differentiation phenotype of the inner enamel epithelium, which is associated with neuroectodermal differentiation. The aberrant NeuroD1 expression may induce CD56 expression in AB and KCOT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ameloblastoma / metabolism*
  • Ameloblasts* / cytology
  • Ameloblasts* / metabolism
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / immunology
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • CD56 Antigen* / immunology
  • CD56 Antigen* / metabolism
  • Cadherins / immunology
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Child
  • Dentigerous Cyst / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jaw Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Plate / cytology*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • CD56 Antigen
  • Cadherins
  • NEUROD1 protein, human