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South Asian J Cancer. 2019 Jan-Mar;8(1):60-64. doi: 10.4103/sajc.sajc_64_17.

Role of CD138, CD56, and light chain immunohistochemistry in suspected and diagnosed plasma cell myeloma: A prospective study.

Author information

Department of Hematology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India.
Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Department of Hematology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.



Plasma cells (PCs) have conventionally been counted on the bone marrow aspirate, and small focal involvement may be missed even on bone marrow biopsy sections.

Material and Methods:

We aimed to study the role of CD138, CD56, anti-κ, and anti-λ immunohistochemistry (IHC) to separate PC myeloma from reactive plasmacytosis and to study the utility of these in cases suspected as myelomas and lacking >10% PCs on bone marrow aspirate. The study comprised 35 diagnosed myelomas, 20 reactive plasmacytosis, and 19 M-band positive suspected myelomas. CD138 IHC was performed on all cases along with CD56, anti-κ, and anti-λ IHC. PCs were counted on CD138-immunostained sections by manual count and by image analysis. In addition, CD56 expression was correlated with clinical features in diagnosed myeloma group.


In all cases, both manual counts and image analysis, PC counts were significantly higher on the CD138 stained sections than bone marrow aspirates. It was seen that the manual PC counts and image analysis counts were equivalent in diagnosed myeloma cases. CD56 expression was seen in ~62.85% diagnosed myeloma cases while it was negative in cases of reactive plasmacytosis. CD56 expression was significantly higher in patients with lytic lesions (78.26% vs. 21.74%). CD138, anti-κ, and anti-λ IHC also helped classify 11/19 (57.8%) cases correctly.


The use of CD138 along with the light chain and CD56 IHC adds a high diagnostic value in myeloma patients and suspected myeloma cases. The PCs can be counted manually on the CD138-immunostained sections and correlate well with the counts obtained by image analysis.


CD138; CD56; lytic lesions; myeloma; plasma cell percentage; reactive plasmacytosis; suspected myeloma

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