Test Catalog

Test ID: CD38    
CD38 Immunostain, Technical Component Only

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Classification of lymphoproliferative and plasma cell proliferative disorders

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

CD38 is a transmembrane protein that shows enzymatic activity involved in the production of calcium-mobilizing compounds and receptor activity involved in cellular adhesion and signaling in leukocytes. It is expressed in a variety of cell types including hematopoietic precursors, plasma cells, germinal center B cells (weakly), a subset of T and natural killer cells, erythrocytes, platelets, prostatic epithelium, and smooth and striated muscle cells. In some cases it may be a marker of activation. CD38 expression may be useful in the diagnosis of lymphoproliferative and plasma cell proliferative disorders. Determination of CD38 expression by flow cytometry has been used as a prognostic marker on chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

This test includes only technical performance of the stain (no pathologist interpretation is performed). Mayo Clinic cannot provide an interpretation of tech only stains outside the context of a pathology consultation. If an interpretation is needed, refer to PATHC / Pathology Consultation for a full diagnostic evaluation or second opinion of the case. All material associated with the case is required. Additional specific stains may be requested as part of the pathology consultation, and will be performed as necessary at the discretion of the Mayo pathologist.


The positive and negative controls are verified as showing appropriate immunoreactivity and documentation is retained at Mayo Clinic Rochester. If a control tissue is not included on the slide, a scanned image of the relevant quality control tissue is available upon request. Contact 855-516-8404.


Interpretation of this test should be performed in the context of the patient's clinical history and other diagnostic tests by a qualified pathologist.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Age of a cut paraffin section can affect immunoreactivity. Stability thresholds vary widely among published literature and are antigen-dependent. Best practice is for paraffin sections to be cut fresh.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Zupo S, Rugari E, Dono M, et al: CD38 signaling by agonistic monoclonal antibody prevents apoptosis of human germinal center B cells. Eur J Immunol 1994;24:1218-1222

2. Rodig SJ, Vergilio JA, Shahsafaei A, et al: Characteristic expression patterns of TCL1, CD38, and CD44 identify aggressive lymphomas harboring a MYC translocation. Am J Surg Pathol 2008 Jan;32(1):113-122

3. Soma LA, Craig FE, Swerdlow SH: The proliferation center microenvironment and prognostic markers in chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma. Hum Pathol 2006 Feb;37(2):152-159