E-cadherin is a specific marker for erythroid differentiation and has utility, in combination with CD117 and CD34, for enumerating myeloblasts in hematopoietic neoplasms

Am J Clin Pathol. 2014 May;141(5):656-64. doi: 10.1309/AJCP8M4QQTAZPGRP.


Objectives: E-cadherin, epithelial calcium-dependent cell adhesion protein, has been identified as a marker of immature erythroid precursors in recent years. However, the specificity of E-cadherin in bone marrow specimens for erythroblasts vs myeloblasts or other early hematopoietic precursors in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) has not been fully elucidated.

Methods: We analyzed 105 cases of AML and MDS to evaluate the specificity of E-cadherin.

Results: Of 84 cases of AML, including cases with megakaryocytic, erythroid, monocytic, and granulocytic differentiation, all five acute erythroleukemia cases were positive, as well as one case of megakaryoblastic leukemia that showed coexpression of glycophorin A. In addition, we demonstrate that a panel of three markers, E-cadherin, CD117, and CD34, is effective in identifying lineage-specific myeloblasts in cases of MDS where left-shifted erythroid hyperplasia may complicate morphologic assessment of myeloblasts.

Conclusions: In marrow specimens, E-cadherin is a useful marker for erythroid differentation.

Keywords: Acute myeloid leukemia; E-cadherin; Erythroid; Erythroleukemia; Myelodysplastic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD34 / immunology
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cadherins / immunology
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Erythroblasts / immunology
  • Erythroblasts / metabolism
  • Granulocyte Precursor Cells / cytology*
  • Granulocyte Precursor Cells / immunology
  • Granulocyte Precursor Cells / metabolism
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / immunology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / metabolism*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / immunology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Biomarkers
  • Cadherins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit