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Am J Pathol. 2011 Sep;179(3):1110-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.05.012. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Serpin peptidase inhibitor clade A member 1 (SerpinA1) is a novel biomarker for progression of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.


The incidence of keratinocyte-derived nonmelanoma skin cancers is increasing worldwide because of cumulative recreational exposure to sunlight. At present, no specific molecular markers are available for assessing the progression of premalignant actinic keratoses to invasive cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). We examined the role of the Serpin family in skin SCCs. Expression profiling of cutaneous SCC cell lines (n = 8) revealed up-regulation of SerpinA1 compared with normal epidermal keratinocytes (n = 5). Analysis with quantitative RT-PCR showed that the mean level of SerpinA1 mRNA was markedly up-regulated in cutaneous SCC cell lines (n = 8) compared with in normal keratinocytes. SerpinA1 production by SCC cells was dependent on p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activity and was up-regulated by epidermal growth factor, tumor necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ, and IL-1β. Immunostaining of tissue arrays with 148 human tissue samples revealed tumor cell-associated expression of SerpinA1 in 19 of 36 actinic keratoses, 22 of 29 Bowen's disease samples, 67 of 71 sporadic SCCs, and all 12 recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa-associated SCCs examined. Moreover, tumor cell-associated SerpinA1 staining was detected in all chemically induced mouse skin SCCs studied (n = 17). Overexpression of SerpinA1 mRNA was also detected by quantitative RT-PCR in chemically induced mouse skin SCCs (n = 14) compared with control tissues (n = 14). These data identify SerpinA1 as a novel tumor cell-associated biomarker for progression of cutaneous SCCs.

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