• cytokeratins;
  • double immunostaining;
  • oral epithelial dysplasia;
  • orthokeratotic dysplasia

Diagnosis of the exact grade of oral epithelial dysplasia is difficult, and interobserver variations in grading are common. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression patterns of cytokeratins (CKs) in dysplastic oral epithelia, to identify useful double immunostaining diagnostic markers. Immunoexpression of CK13, CK14, CK17, and Ki-67 were investigated in 21 normal epithelial specimens and 146 epithelial dysplasia specimens. In epithelial dysplasia specimens, orthokeratotic dysplasia (OKD) was identified using CK10 immunostaining. Most mild dysplasia specimens were CK13+ and CK17–. In moderate dysplasia, CK13 expression tended to be lower and CK17 expression tended to be higher than in mild dysplasia. All carcinoma in situ (CIS) specimens were CK17+. In differentiated type CIS specimens, CK13 expression was weakly positive. Most epithelial dysplasia specimens were CK14+. There were no significant differences in the expression patterns of CKs between OKD and non-OKD specimens in any of the grades of dysplasia. These results indicate that CK14 expression can be used to detect early epithelial dysplasia, and that CK13 and CK17 expression are useful for detecting neoplastic changes.