Human lymphoid cells express epithelial membrane antigen. Implications for diagnosis of human neoplasms

Lancet. 1984 Nov 17;2(8412):1124-9. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(84)91558-7.


Epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) is generally assumed to be expressed only on epithelial cells. However, EMA was also found on reactive and neoplastic plasma cells, on some non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (particularly cases of T-cell lymphoma and "malignant histiocytosis"), and on Reed-Sternberg cells in cases of lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's disease. EMA was also induced on normal blood lymphocytes by exposure to human T-lymphotropic virus type II or phytohaemagglutinin. The specificity of these aberrant reactions was confirmed by the use of three different monoclonal anti-EMA antibodies (E29, HMFG2, and LICR.LON/M8), and by showing that EMA in lymphoid tissue is similar in molecular weight to EMA in human milk. These results indicate that additional anti-epithelial antibodies (eg, anti-cytokeratins) should be used in conjunction with anti-EMA for tumour diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Histiocytosis, Langerhans-Cell / diagnosis
  • Histiocytosis, Langerhans-Cell / immunology
  • Hodgkin Disease / diagnosis
  • Hodgkin Disease / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Membrane Proteins / immunology
  • Molecular Weight
  • Mucin-1
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mucin-1