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Keywords:

  • keratin;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • diagnostic surgical pathology

Keratin expression in human tissues and neoplasms

Keratin filaments constitute type I and type II intermediate filaments (IFs), with at least 20 subtypes named keratin 1–20. Since certain keratin subtypes are only expressed in some normal human tissues but not others, and vice versa, various tissues have been subclassified according to the pattern of keratin staining. Simple epithelia generally express the simple epithelial keratins 7, 18, 19, and 20, while complex epithelia express complex epithelial keratins 5/6, 10, 14, and 15. When an epithelium undergoes malignant transformation, its keratin profile usually remains constant. The constitution and expression patterns of keratin filaments in human epithelial neoplasms are complex and often distinctive. In this article, we first briefly review the molecular and cell biology of keratin filaments. We then focus on the expression patterns of keratin filaments in various human neoplasms.