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Histochem Cell Biol. 2008 Dec;130(6):1165-75. doi: 10.1007/s00418-008-0499-3. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Morphological evidence of basal keratinocyte migration during the re-epithelialization process.

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Division in Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Department of Oral Biology, Research Center for Orofacial Hard Tissue Regeneration, Brain Korea 21 Project, Yonsei University College of Dentistry, Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


The regeneration of wounded stratified epithelium is accomplished via the migration of keratinocytes from the margins of the wound. However, the process of keratinocyte migration on the wound surface and the role of epithelial stem cells during re-epithelialization remain to be elucidated. Therefore, we administered BrdU to embryonic mice and generated epithelial defects on the buccal mucosa of these mice at two weeks after birth, using CO(2) laser irradiation, with which we removed the entire thickness of the epithelium. In the unwounded epithelium, cytokeratin 14, p63, and BrdU were localized within the basal layer of the epithelium, but the majority of cells within the regenerated epithelium were immunopositive for these proteins. PCNA-negative and BrdU-positive basal keratinocytes, which evidence a slow cell cycle, were localized solely within the basal layer of the unwound epithelium facing the tips of dermal papillae. After laser irradiation, these basal keratinocytes facing the tips of the papillae evidenced positive immunoreactivity for PCNA, in addition to BrdU. These results indicate that epithelial stem cells of oral mucosa may be localized in the basal layer of the epithelium facing the tips of dermal papillae, and may migrate laterally with other basal keratinocytes in response to external stimuli.

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