CD markers in human diseases: an informative guide

Explore the role of primary antibodies targeting CD proteins in neurobiology and cancer research. Read more to discover how these antibodies facilitate precise cell population identification in the nervous system and contribute to human cancer disease diagnosis and prognosis.

Cluster of Differentiation (CD) markers, also referred to as CD antigens or CD molecules, represent a vital classification system for cell surface molecules present not only on immune cells but also on various cell types. CD markers serve as invaluable tools for identifying and characterizing different cell populations within the immune system and other tissues. Each CD marker is designated with a specific number, which corresponds to a distinct cell surface protein or antigen.

The significance of CD markers in the fields of immunology and cell biology cannot be emphasized enough. They play a pivotal role in helping scientists and clinicians differentiate between various cell populations, comprehend their functions, and assess their involvement in a wide range of immune responses and diseases.

For instance, well-known CD markers like CD4 and CD8 are critical for distinguishing between helper T cells (CD4+) and cytotoxic T cells (CD8+). Additionally, numerous other CD markers are found on B cells, dendritic cells, monocytes, and diverse subsets of immune cells, enabling a detailed characterization of these cells.

It's important to note that the nomenclature of CD markers doesn't always directly correlate with specific biological functions. Many CD markers have multifaceted roles and can be expressed on various cell types. As our understanding of the immune system and cell biology progresses, researchers continue to discover and elucidate the functions of CD markers.


CD markers for neuroscience research

In the field of neuroscience, CD markers have proven to be invaluable for studying the nervous system. Specific primary antibodies are available to target CD markers expressed on neuronal and glial cells. These antibodies facilitate the identification and differentiation of various cell subtypes within the nervous system, shedding light on their functions and interactions. This precise labeling is pivotal in investigations related to neural development, neurodegenerative disorders, and even brain cancers such as glioma.

Here are some examples:

  • CD56 (NCAM): Associated with neuroendocrine tumors and neural development disorders like autism and schizophrenia.

  • CD133 (Prominin-1): Linked to brain tumor stem cells in glioblastoma and other brain cancers.

  • CD45 (Leukocyte Common Antigen): Used to identify immune cells infiltrating the brain in diseases like multiple sclerosis.

  • CD31 (PECAM-1): Associated with endothelial cells in the blood-brain barrier and is relevant in neuroinflammatory conditions.

  • CD184 (CXCR4): Implicated in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) due to its role in viral entry into the central nervous system.


Download the CD markers Infographic


CD markers for cancer research

In the realm of cancer research, primary antibodies targeting CD proteins have played a pivotal role in enhancing our understanding of human cancers, including hematological cancers such as leukemia. These antibodies are central to the diagnosis of leukemia, as their abnormal expression patterns often serve as initial indicators of the disease.

For instance for the diagnosis of leukemia:

  • CD34 serves as a marker for hematopoietic stem cells and is frequently used to identify immature or undifferentiated cells in leukemia, especially acute leukemias.

  • CD19 and CD20 are found on B cells and are utilized to differentiate B-cell leukemias like B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

  • CD3 is a marker for mature T cells and is employed to identify T-cell leukemias such as T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL).

  • CD13 and CD33 are associated with myeloid cells and are often used to identify myeloid leukemias, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Additionally, several other CD markers are commonly associated with various human cancers:

  • CD44, a cell adhesion molecule, is linked to cancer stem cells in multiple cancer types, including breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer.

  • CD133 (Prominin-1) is often regarded as a marker for cancer stem cells and is associated with several cancer types, including brain tumors (glioblastoma), colorectal cancer, and liver cancer.

  • CD326 (EpCAM) is used as a marker in the detection and characterization of certain epithelial cancers, including breast, colorectal, and ovarian cancers.

  • CD31 (PECAM-1) serves as a marker for endothelial cells and is often employed to assess angiogenesis in tumors.

  • CD45 (Leukocyte Common Antigen) is a marker for leukocytes and is sometimes used to distinguish between tumor cells and immune cells in cancer samples.

  • CD99 is expressed in various types of tumors, including Ewing's sarcoma, small round cell tumors, and some soft tissue sarcomas.

  • CD56 (NCAM) is linked to neuroendocrine tumors, such as small-cell lung cancer and neuroendocrine carcinomas of the gastrointestinal tract.

  • CD138 (Syndecan-1) serves as a marker for plasma cells and is utilized in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells.

  • CD30 (TNFRSF8) is associated with Hodgkin lymphoma and some non-Hodgkin lymphomas, such as anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.

  • CD3, CD4, and CD8 are markers used to evaluate the presence and composition of T lymphocytes in the tumor microenvironment, which can hold prognostic significance in various cancers.


Read the white paper: CD Markers for Cancer Research


In summary, primary antibodies directed against CD proteins are indispensable tools in both neurobiology and cancer research. They enable scientists to pinpoint and study specific cell populations in the nervous system and provide critical insights into the diagnosis and prognosis of diseases like leukemia.

As research continues to uncover the intricate roles of CD markers and their genetic regulation, these antibodies will remain essential in advancing our understanding of complex diseases and developing targeted therapeutic interventions.


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