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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 Dec;129(12):1334-8.

Expression of urokinase-type plasminogen activator and its receptor in keloids.

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  • 1Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Drive, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



The urokinase-mediated plasminogen activation (uPA) system plays a central role in a number of cellular processes including tissue remodeling, cell migration, and angiogenesis. Elevated uPA activity has also been seen with tumor invasion and metastasis in a variety of malignancies. Keloids represent an aberrant form of wound healing characterized by uncontrolled growth with invasion beyond the margins of the original wound. The regulation of this cellular process remains poorly understood. We hypothesize that keloids will have increased staining percentage for uPA and its receptor (uPAR) compared with normal scars. To our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the relationship of uPAR in keloid formation.


Analysis of uPAR expression by immunohistochemistry in paraffin sections from 20 keloids and 18 normal scars. Expression was graded by a dermatopathologist according to percentage of cells staining for uPAR.


University Medical Center (Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery) and the Department of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical and Dental School, Rochester, NY.


Of the 20 keloids, 8 (40%) strongly expressed uPAR (>50% of cells), while only 4 (22%) of 18 normal scars had similar staining. More than half of the normal scars stained minimally for uPAR (<5% staining). There was a strong expression of uPAR in the extracellular matrix in 14 (70%) of the 20 keloids, while no scar showed uPAR in the extracellular matrix.


Our observation suggests that the uPA system is involved in the expansion of keloids beyond the wound margins in part through the degradation of the extracellular matrix, a finding that is supported by the strong expression of uPAR in the extracellular matrix and collagenous cords in most keloids studied.

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