Stains & CD markers

Topic Completed: 1 July 2013

Minor changes: 24 June 2021

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: CD markers[TI]

Nat Pernick, M.D.
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Cite this page: Pernick N. CD Markers - General. website. Accessed October 21st, 2021.
Definition / general
  • CD: cluster designation or cluster of differentiation; a protocol to identify and investigate cell surface molecules
  • Nomenclature proposed in 1982 at First International Workshop and Conference on Human Leukocyte Differentiation Antigens (HLDA)
  • A classification system for monoclonal antibodies generated by laboratories worldwide against cell surface molecules, initially on leukocytes, but now also from other cell types
  • Data is collated and analyzed by cluster analysis based on pattern of binding to leukocytes or other cell types
  • Must be at least two monoclonal antibodies for each antigen
  • "w" indicates that the CD is not well characterized or is represented by only one monoclonal antibody
  • Current CD markers range from CD1 to CD371
  • Interpretation should be based on cellular distribution of staining (i.e. membranous, cytoplasmic, nuclear), proportion of positively stained cells, staining intensity and cutoff levels
  • CD molecules have various functions, including receptors or ligands; also cell adhesion, antigen presentation
  • Although commonly used by pathologists to characterize cells, they most likely also have an important (although sometimes unknown) function in cell physiology
Uses by pathologists
  • Used in immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry to characterize unknown cell types or to better understand known cell types
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