Cytoplasmic expression of the CD3 antigen as a diagnostic marker for immature T-cell malignancies

Blood. 1988 Mar;71(3):603-12.


The expression of cytoplasmic CD3 (CyCD3) was analyzed in 45 leukemias, five thymus cell samples, five peripheral blood (PB) samples, and ten cell lines. All T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias (T-ALL) that did not express surface membrane CD3 (SmCD3) appeared to express CyCD3. Furthermore, the majority of SmCD3+ T-ALL also expressed CyCD3. Analogous results were obtained with thymus cell samples in that about 95% of the thymocytes expressed CyCD3 whereas 60% to 75% of the thymocytes also expressed SmCD3. In normal peripheral blood only prominent SmCD3 expression was found. These data indicate that immature T cells express CyCD3 only, that the combined expression of CyCD3 and SmCD3 is characteristic for intermediate differentiation stages, and that mature T cells express prominent SmCD3. All (precursor) B cell leukemias, acute myeloid leukemias, and non-T cell lines tested did not express CyCD3. On the basis of these data, we conclude that CyCD3 expression is restricted to the T cell lineage and can be used as a diagnostic marker for immature SmCD3- T cell malignancies. Therefore, we evaluated which fixative is optimal for CyCD3 staining, and we determined by immunofluorescence staining and Western blotting which anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (MoAb) can be used for the detection of CyCD3. In our opinion, acid ethanol was the best fixative for the cytocentrifuge preparations. Furthermore, we demonstrated that CyCD3 can be easily detected by use of MoAbs raised against denaturated CD3 chains such as those of the SP series (SP-6, SP-10, SP-64, and SP-78). In addition we tested 22 anti-CD3 MoAbs of the Oxford CD3 panel that were raised against native SmCD3, and it appeared that only four (UCHT1, VIT-3b, G19-41 and SK7/Leu-4) of them were able to detect CyCD3. In Western blot analysis all four MoAbs recognized the CD3-epsilon chain only.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis*
  • Antigens, Surface / analysis*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Centrifugation
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Cytological Techniques
  • Cytoplasm / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Infant
  • Leukemia / diagnosis
  • Leukemia / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / immunology
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Surface