Expression of keratins in normal, immortalized and malignant oral epithelia in organotypic culture

A Hansson, B K Bloor, Y Haig, P R Morgan, J Ekstrand, R C Grafstrom

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Keratins have been extensively studied in tissues and cultured keratinocytes but limited information is available on epithelia reconstructed in vitro. The aim of this study was to examine keratin expression in organotypic epithelia with normal (NOK), immortalized (SVpgC2a) and malignant (SqCC/Y1) human buccal cells. Organotypic epithelia were derived from 10 days of culture at the air-liquid interface of collagen gels containing human oral fibroblasts using a standardized serum-free medium. Sections were stained immunohistochemically with selected mono-specific antibodies to a range of keratins. Organotypic epithelia showed sharp differences in keratin expression and distribution. K4/K13, K1/K10, K6/K16 were variably expressed in NOK and SqCC/Y1 but were not detected in SVpgC2a. K5 was expressed in all organotypic epithelia but K14 was absent in SVpgC2a. K7 and K8 showed variable expression while K18 was expressed uniformly in all epithelia. K19 was expressed consistently in NOK and K20 was distributed heterogeneously in SVpgC2a. Overall, organotypic cultures of normal keratinocytes express many of the same keratins as buccal mucosa. Further, the loss of keratins in SVpgC2a and their retention in SqCC/Y1 have several features in common with the respective keratin profile of oral epithelial dysplasia and well-differentiated oral squamous cell carcinoma. Although qualitative and quantitative differences exist compared to keratin expression in vivo, these cell lines in organotypic culture may serve in studies of the multi-step progression of oral cancer. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419 - 430
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001


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