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J Invest Dermatol. 1993 Oct;101(4):600-4.

Distinctive integrin expression in the newly forming epidermis during wound healing in humans.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Modena, Italy.


The integrin receptor family plays a fundamental role in mediating cell attachment to a variety of extracellular matrix molecules. In normal human epidermis, the alpha 2 beta 1, alpha 3 beta 1, alpha 6 beta 4, and alpha v beta 5 integrin heterodimers are expressed and appear largely confined to the basal cell layer. In the present study, beta 1, beta 4, and alpha v integrin expression in the epidermis during wound healing in humans was examined. Punch biopsies were performed on healthy volunteers. At daily intervals up to day 8, and at days 11, 14, 21, and 28, the wound site was surgically removed. Using immunofluorescence microscopy, several modifications of the integrin expression pattern were observed on migrating keratinocytes during the re-epithelialization phase of the wound-healing process: i) alpha v expression was strongly enhanced and polarized at the basal pole of basal keratinocytes; ii) among the beta 1 integrins, alpha 3 beta 1 was overexpressed and distributed over the entire basal keratinocyte membrane and a weak alpha 5 beta 1 reactivity became evident; and iii) alpha 6 beta 4 was detected as a linear staining along the newly forming dermal-epidermal junction. Moreover, both during the re-epithelialization phase and during the first 2 weeks after wound closure, alpha 3, alpha 6, alpha v, beta 1, and beta 4 were no longer confined to the basal layer, as in normal epidermis, but were also found on several suprabasal cell layers. These results suggest that alpha v beta 5, alpha 3 beta 1, and alpha 5 beta 1 may be the main integrin receptors mediating keratinocyte spreading and migration over the provisional matrix of the wound bed.

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