Phenotypic difference of normal plasma cells from mature myeloma cells

Blood. 1993 May 15;81(10):2658-63.


We have recently shown that two-color analysis with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-anti-CD38 antibody could clearly distinguish myeloma cells (plasma cells) from other hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow. Myeloma cells (plasma cells) alone were located at CD38strong positive (++) fractions. To further distinguish normal plasma cells from mature myeloma cells phenotypically, we examined immunophenotypes of normal plasma cells and myeloma cells by two-color flow cytometry with FITC-anti-CD38 antibody and phycoerythrin staining with antibody to VLA-4, MPC-1, CD44, CD56, CD19, CD20, CD24, or CD10. Normal plasma cells were all VLA-4+VLA-5+MPC-1+CD44+ CD19+CD56- in the bone marrows from seven healthy donors, tonsils from four patients with chronic tonsillitis, a spleen from one patient with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and lymph nodes from two patients with chronic lymphadenitis, respectively. On the other hand, mature myeloma cells (12 of 20 cases), VLA-4+VLA-5+MPC-1+, were all CD19- and most of them CD56+, and there were no myeloma cells with the CD19+CD56- phenotype in the 20 cases of myelomas we tested. Thus, as for the expression of CD19 and CD56, normal plasma cells from various tissues are all CD19+CD56-, whereas no myeloma cells have the CD19+CD56- phenotype. According to this finding, we investigated the expression of CD19 and CD56 on plasma cells (CD38++ fractions) in monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Both CD19+CD56- and CD19-DC56+ plasma cells were found in all five cases of MGUS we tested, suggesting that MGUS consists of phenotypically normal plasma cells and myeloma cells. Therefore, it is reasoned that phenotypic analysis of plasma cells with anti-CD19 and anti-CD56 antibodies can distinguish normal plasma cells from malignant plasma cells (myeloma cells), and can detect malignant plasma cells even in MGUS or premyeloma states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphadenitis / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Monocytes / pathology*
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Palatine Tonsil / pathology
  • Paraproteinemias / pathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic / pathology
  • Receptors, Very Late Antigen / analysis
  • Tonsillitis / pathology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Receptors, Very Late Antigen