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Hum Pathol. 1994 Jan;25(1):73-9.

Expression of the myelomonocytic antigens CD36 and L1 by keratinocytes in squamous intraepithelial lesions of the cervix.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, UK.


The keratinocytes in squamous intraepithelial lesions (SILs) of the cervix show altered expression of a number of molecules involved both in the control of growth and differentiation and in cell surface interactions, particularly with components of the immune system. We have used tissue biopsies and in vitro model systems to investigate the expression in SILs of the molecules CD36 and L1, which are predominantly expressed by myelomonocytic cells but which also have functional roles in keratinocyte biology. Whereas the L1 protein (defined by the monoclonal antibody Mac387) was expressed by suprabasal and superficial cells in 12 of 12 cases of normal cervix (NCx) and in 14 of 14 cases of low-grade SILs (LG-SILs), in two of 16 cases of high-grade SILs (HG-SILs) it was entirely absent and in the remainder it was restricted to the most superficial layers. When an arbitrary grading scale was applied, L1 expression in HG-SILs proved to be significantly lower than in LG-SILs (P < .01) or in cases of NCx (P < .01). CD36 was expressed by superficial cells in four of 12 cases of NCx, in six of 14 LG-SILs, and none of 16 cases of HG-SILs (when graded, LG-SILs v HG-SILs = P < .05). The mechanisms underlying the expression of both molecules were investigated by growth in organotypic tissue culture of normal ectocervical epithelium and the cervical keratinocyte cell lines W12 (a model for LG-SILs) and CaSki and SiHa (models for HG-SILs). L1 was diffusely expressed by NCx cells and the W12 cell line, although its expression in the CaSki and SiHa cell lines was much more irregular and restricted. CD36 was occasionally present on the surface of superficial NCx and W12 cells, but was absent from CaSki and SiHa cells. Neither molecule could be induced by treatment of the cells with interferon-gamma. These data suggest that the expression of CD36 and L1 by cervical keratinocytes is related to their differentiation status rather than representing an effect of exogenous factors, such as those released by the immune cell infiltrate associated with SILs. CD36 may function as an immunoregulatory molecule on cervical keratinocytes in SILs, while L1 is more likely to be involved in the intracellular regulation of cell proliferation and maturation.

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