CD56 (Neural cell adhesion molecules, NCAM, Leu19)

NCAM is a cell adhesion molecule originally isolated on the basis of its role in neural cell adhesion. Antibodies are effective on paraffin-embedded tissue. There have ben reports that NCAM positive carcinomas are more aggressive than NCAM negative carcinomas6.

Antibodies are effective on paraffin-embedded tissue7.

Immunohistochemical expression


epithelial cells

spindle cells

epithelial mesothelioma


5/12 in stromal fibroblasts

biphasic mesothelioma



sarcomatoid mesothelioma



mesothelioma overall

73% (19/26)2

squamous cell carcinoma












The following are negative for CD 56:

Diagnostic utility


1Kaufmann, O. Georgi, T. Dietel, M. Utility of 123C3 monoclonal antibody against CD56 (NCAM) for the diagnosis of small cell carcinomas on paraffin sections. Hum Pathol 1997;28:1373-8.

2Lantuejoul S. Laverriere MH. Sturm N. Moro D. Frey G. Brambilla C. Brambilla E. NCAM (neural cell adhesion molecules) expression in malignant mesotheliomas. Human Pathology 2000;31(4):415-21.

3Al-Khafaji et al. Immunohistologic analysis of gastrointestinal and pulmonary carcinoid tumours. Human Pathol 1998;29:992-999.

4Soler, A. P., Gilliard, G., Xiong, Y., Knudsen, K. A., Martin, J. L., De Suarez, C. B., Mota Gamboa, J. D., Mosca, W., Zoppi, L. B. Overexpression of neural cell adhesion molecule in Chagas' myocarditis. Human Pathol 2001;32:149-155.

5Nakatani, K., Seki, S., Kawada, N., Kobayashi, K., Kaneda, K. Expression of neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) in perisinusoidal stellate cells of the human liver. Cell Tissue Res 1996;283:159-165.

6Naka, T., Oda, Y., Iwamoto, Y. Immunohistochemical analysis of E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta- catenin, gamma-catenin, and neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) in chordoma. J Clin Pathol 2001;54:945-950

7Leong A S-Y, Cooper K and Leong FJ W-M. Manual of diagnostic antibodies for immunohistology. 2nd edition, 2003

8Martin, P., A. Santon, et al. (2004). "Neural cell adhesion molecule expression in plasma cells in bone marrow biopsies and aspirates allows discrimination between multiple myeloma, monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance and polyclonal plasmacytosis." Histopathology 44(4): 375-80.

9Ely, S. A. and D. M. Knowles (2002). "Expression of CD56/neural cell adhesion molecule correlates with the presence of lytic bone lesions in multiple myeloma and distinguishes myeloma from monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance and lymphomas with plasmacytoid differentiation." Am J Pathol 160(4): 1293-9.


This page last revised 20.12.2004.

©SMUHT/PW Bishop