CD31 is a transmembrane glycoprotein, 130-140 kDa, also designated platelet-endothelium cell adhesion molecule = PECAM-1, belonging to the immunoglobulin super family. CD31 is ligand for CD38 and plays a role in thrombosis and angiogenesis. CD31 is strongly expressed in endothelial cells and weakly expressed in megakaryocytes, platelets, occasional plasma cells, lymphocytes (espc. marginal zone B-cells, peripheral T-cells) and neutrophils.


CD31 is expressed in the vast majority of all types of vascular neoplasms, such as hemangioendothelioma, angiofibroma, hemangioma, and angiosarcoma. CD 31 is also expressed in most cases of Kaposi sarcoma and epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. CD 31 may be expressed in a haematolymphoid neoplasms like chronic lymphatic leukaemia, plasmacytoma, histicytosis and juvenile xantogranuloma. When it comes to carcinomas, very few cases have been reported to express CD31. However, there are reports where singular cases of mucoepidermoid carcinoma, papillary thyroid carcinoma, sweat gland tumours, and metaplastic breast carcinoma with spindle cells have been reported to stain for CD31. There are also reports on CD 31-positivity in a minority of malignant fibrous histiocytoma of giant cell type and malignant mesothelioma. Finally CD31 has been detected in malignant gliomas, not only in the vesssels but also the neoplastic cells.


CD31 is most used in the panel for recognizing endothelial cell differentiation in tumours and should be considered a reliable marker for all types of vascular neoplasms.


Tonsil and liver are recommended as positive and negative tissue controls for CD31. In tonsil, the vast majority of all mantle zone B-cells cells must show an at least weak to moderate, but distinct membranous staining reaction, while endothelial and plasma cells must show a strong, predominantly membranous staining reaction. The squamous epithelial cells must be negative. In liver, the hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells must display weak to moderate, distinct membranous staining reaction, while hepatocytes are negative.

Selected references

Aroca F, Renaud W, Bartoli C, Bouvier-Labit C, Figarella-Branger D. Expression of PECAM-1/CD31 isoforms in human brain gliomas. J Neurooncol. 1999 May;43(1):19-25. De Young et al. CD31 reactivity in carcinomas and mesotheliomas. Am J Clin Pathol 1998; 110(3):374-7. Fox SB et al. Association of tumour angiogenesis with bone marrow micrometastases in breast cancer patients. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997; 89:1044-9 Govender D et al. CD 31 (JC70) expression in plasma cells: an immunohistochemical analysis of reactive and neoplastic plasma cells. J Clin Pathol 1997; 50(6):490-93 Higgins JP et al: Expression of FKBP12 in benign and malignant vascular endothelium: an immunohistochemical study on conventional sections and tissue microarrays. Am J Surg pathol 2003; 27(1):58-64 Kuzu I et al. Heterogeneity of vascular endothelial cells with relevance to diagnosis of vascular tumours. J Clin Pathol 1992; 45(2):143-8 Nascimiento AG. A clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical comparative study of cutaneous and intramuscular forms of juvenile xanthogranulomas. Am J Surg pathol 1997; 21(6):645-52. Nicholson SA, McDermott MB, DeYoung BR, Swanson PE. CD31 immunoreactivity in small round cell tumors. Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2000 Mar;8(1):19-24. Slone SP, Fleming DR, Buchino JJ. Sinus histiocytosis with massive lymphadenopathy and Langerhans cell histiocytosis express the cellular adhesion molecule CD 31. Arch pathol Lab Med 2003; 127(3):341-44 Yan H-C, Newman PJ, Abeida SM. Epitope mapping of CD 31 (PECAM-1). In: Schlossman JM et al (eds): Leucocyte typing V. White cells differentiation antigens. Oxford University Press 1995:1261.

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