Stains & CD markers

Last author update: 1 November 2011
Last staff update: 8 February 2023 (update in progress)

Copyright: 2002-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: CD56 [title]

Nat Pernick, M.D.
Page views in 2022: 30,826
Page views in 2023 to date: 14,368
Cite this page: Pernick N. CD56. website. Accessed June 8th, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Nerves:
    • Regulates homophilic (like-like) interactions between neurons and between neurons and muscle
    • Associates with fibroblast growth factor receptor and stimulates tyrosine kinase activity of receptor to induce neurite outgrowth
    • When neural crest cells stop making N-CAM and N-cadherin and start displaying integrin receptors, cells separate and migrate (J Cell Sci 2002;115:283)
  • Hematopoiesis:
    • Prototypic marker of Natural Killer (NK) cells
    • It also presents on subset of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells
    • NK cells include a less mature (CD56(bright) / CD16-) subset that is more common in lymph nodes and a more mature (CD56(dim)/CD16+) subset that is more numerous in peripheral blood (Hum Pathol 2011;42:679)
  • Adhesion:
    • Contributes to cell-cell or cell-matrix adhesion during development
Prognostic factors
Case reports
Uses by pathologists
Microscopic (histologic) images

Case #101

NK lymphoma-nasal type

Renal carcinoid, primary

Solid pseudopapillary neoplasm, pancreas

Contributed by Carolyn Glass, M.D., Jijgee Munkhdelger, M.D., Ph.D. and Andrey Bychkov, M.D., Ph.D.


Typical carcinoid immunoprofile

Images hosted on other servers:
Missing Image


Positive staining - normal
  • NK cells (80 - 90%), large granular lymphocytes, activated T cells, osteoblasts
  • Cerebellum and cortex at neuromuscular junctions, neuroendocrine tissue, neurons (membranous pattern), glia
  • Ovarian stromal cells
  • Rete testis cells (clusters of sloughed cells in hydrocele and spermatocele specimens may mimic small cell carcinoma, Hum Pathol 2010;41:88)
  • Skeletal muscle
Positive staining - disease
Negative staining
  • Normal: B cells, granulocytes, monocytes, plasma cells
  • ALL, large granular NK cell lymphocytosis (some cases, Am J Pathol 2004;165:1117), peirpheral T cell lymphoma, plasma cell leukemia, PNET/Ewing’s sarcoma, subcutaneous panniculitis-like T-cell lymphoma (Arch Pathol Lab Med 2009;133:303)
Additional references
Back to top
Image 01 Image 02