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Am J Pathol. Dec 1993; 143(6): 1667–1678.
PMCID: PMC1887274

Keratin 17 expression as a marker for epithelial transformation in viral warts.

Abstract

The profile of keratin expression in benign warts from various cutaneous and mucosal sites along with dysplastic warts and squamous cell carcinomas has been examined using a panel of monospecific antibodies to epithelial keratins. Viral warts and verrucous keratoses from immunosuppressed renal transplant recipients show a spectrum of squamous atypia from benign lesions, from minimal changes to full thickness dysplasia. Changes associated with malignancy include loss of differentiation-specific keratins 1 and 10 together with expansion of basal cell epitopes and inappropriate expression of simple epithelial keratins 8, 18, and 19 in advanced squamous cell carcinoma. This late expression of keratins 8 and 18 contrasts with early expression of keratin 17 in all dysplastic lesions examined. Keratin 17 is found suprabasally in hyperproliferative lesions, including benign warts, but marked basal plus suprabasal expression is seen increasingly in malignantly transformed epidermis. These findings were not specific to immunosuppression, as shown by identical findings in control squamous cell carcinoma from nonimmunosuppressed individuals. Keratin 17 expression may prove prognostically helpful when assessing dysplasia in epidermal tumors.

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