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Am J Pathol. 1993 Feb;142(2):403-12.

Expression of keratins 1, 6, 15, 16, and 20 in normal cervical epithelium, squamous metaplasia, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, and cervical carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Diagnostic Centre S.S.D.Z. Delft, The Netherlands.


Expression of keratins 1, 6, 15, 16, and 20 was examined in normal cervical epithelia, squamous metaplasia, various grades of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, and both squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas of the cervix with monospecific antibodies. Ectocervical epithelium contains all of these keratins except keratin 20. They show a heterogeneous distribution, with a basally restricted detection of keratin 15. Endocervical columnar cells were found to contain significant amounts of keratin 16, whereas the subcolumnar reserve cells expressed considerable amounts of keratin 15 and 16, and frequently keratin 6. These reserve cell keratins were also found in immature and mature squamous metaplastic epithelium. In the cervical intraepithelial neoplastic lesions they were generally found with increasing intensity as the severity of the lesion progressed. In the keratinizing variety of squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix, these three keratins seem to constitute an important part of the intermediate filament cytoskeleton, whereas in nonkeratinizing squamous cell carcinoma, they occur to a much lesser extent. Surprisingly, these keratins were also occasionally found in adenocarcinomas. From these data we conclude that the keratin phenotype of reserve cells and endocervical columnar cells is more complex than previously suggested. In particular, the keratins occurring in reserve cells are also present in most of the premalignant and in a considerable number of the malignant lesions of the cervix. The differentiation features of the various carcinoma types are, however, reflected in their specific keratin filament composition.

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