Virchows Archiv A

, Volume 395, Issue 1, pp 87–98 | Cite as

Intracellular keratins in normal and pathological bronchial mucosa

Immunocytochemical studies on biopsies and cell suspensions
  • Françoise Bejui-Thivolet
  • Jacqueline Viac
  • Jean Thivolet
  • Michel Faure
Original Articles


The distribution of intracellular keratins was investigated in normal bronchial epithelium and in several morphologically distinct forms of respiratory tract carcinomas. This study was performed with two different experimentally produced antisera against normal human stratum corneum keratin and against keratin protein of MW 67000 dalton, using indirect immunofluorescence and immunoperoxidase methods on tissue sections and cell suspensions.

In normal bronchial epithelium, the basal cells were strongly labelled by both antisera. The ciliated columnar cells appeared devoid of cytokeratins in tissue sections but were strongly labelled with both antisera in cell suspensions. The goblet cells remained negative in every case. In squamous metaplasia of the bronchus, all epithelial cells were unevenly stained with both antisera.

Among tumours, only the squamous cell carcinomas were strongly labelled by both antisera. Primary lung adenocarcinoma appeared weakly positive, whereas metastatic lung carcinomas, undifferentiated lung carcinomas, oat cell tumours, carcinoid tumours were negative.

The immunocytochemical determination of keratins appears to be of value in the study of normal and abnormal epithelial differentiation, in the diagnosis of poorly differentiated carcinomas and in their distinction from metastatic tumours of the lung.

Key words

Bronchial mucosa Cell suspension Lung carcinomas Keratin polypeptides Immunohistochemistry 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bergroth V, Reitamo S, Konttinen YT, Lalla M (1980) Sensitivity and non specific staining of various immunoperoxidase techniques. Histochemistry 68:17–22Google Scholar
  2. Bustamante R, Faure M, Bejui F, Thivolet J (1978) Quantitative immunocytochemical study of plasma cells in skin tumoral stromal reaction. Eur J Cancer 14:1043–1050Google Scholar
  3. Franke WW, Weber K, Osborn M, Schid E, Freudenstein C (1978) Antibody to prekeratin: decoration of tonofilament-like arrays in various cells of epithelial character. Exp Cell Res 116:429–445Google Scholar
  4. Graham RC, Karnovsky MJ (1966) The early stages of absorption of injected horseradish peroxydase in the proximal tubules of mouse kindney. Ultrastructural cytochemistry by a new technique. J Histochem Cytochem 14:291–302Google Scholar
  5. Klein Szanto AJP, Topping DC, Heckman CA, Nettesheim P (1980a) Ultrastructural characteristics of carcinogen-induced nondysplastic changes in tracheal epithelium. Am J Pathol 98:61–82Google Scholar
  6. Kleinszanto AJP, Topping DC, Heckman CA, Nettesheim P (1980b) Ultrastructural characteristics of carcinogen induced dysplastic changes in tracheal epithelium. Am J Pathol 98:83–100Google Scholar
  7. Laemmli UK (1970) Cleavage of structural proteins during the assembly of the head of bacteriophage T4. Nature 277:680–684Google Scholar
  8. Loening Th, Staquet MJ, Thivolet J, Seifert G (1980) Keratin polypeptides distribution in normal and diseased human epidermis and oral mucosa. Immunohistochemical study on unaltered epithelium and inflammatory, premalignant and malignant lesions. Virchows Arch [Pathol Anat] 388:273–288Google Scholar
  9. McDonald JR, McBurney RP, Carlisle JC, Patton MM (1951) The significance of cell types in bronchogenic carcinoma. J Thorac Surg 22:62–73Google Scholar
  10. McDowell EM, Wilson ThS, Trump BF (1981) Atypical endocrine tumors of the lung. Arch Pathol Lab Med 105:20–28Google Scholar
  11. Nettesheim P (1981) Studies of neoplastic developpement in respiratory tract epithelium. Arch Pathol Lab Med 105:1–10Google Scholar
  12. Schlegel R, Banks-Schlegel S, McLeod JA, Pinkus GS (1980a) Immunoperoxidase localization of keratin in human neoplasms. Am J Pathol 101:41–47Google Scholar
  13. Schlegel R, Banks-Schlegel S, Pinkus GS (1980b) Immunohistochemical localization of keratin in normal human tissues. Lab Invest 42:91–96Google Scholar
  14. Schmitt D (1979) Contribution à l'étude des antigènes et des populations lymphocytaires impliqés dans les réactions immunitaires au niveau de la peau. Doctorat d'Etat ès Sciences. Thèse n ° 7943 LyonGoogle Scholar
  15. Sienski W, Dorsett B, Iochim ML (1981) Identification of prekeratin by immunofluorescence staining in the differential diagnosis of tumors. Human Pathol 12:452–457Google Scholar
  16. Spencer H (1977) Pathology of the lung. St Thomas's Hospital Medical School London. 3rd edn, Vol 1. Pergamon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Staquet MJ, Viac J, Thivolet J (1979) Antigenic relationship between polypeptides derived from plantar and hand wart viruses. J Gen Virol 43:713–717Google Scholar
  18. Sun TT, Green H (1978) Immunofluorescent staining of keratin fibers in cultured cells. Cell 14:469–476Google Scholar
  19. Thaler MP, Fukuyama K, Inouq N, Cram DL, Epstein WL (1978) Two tris urea mercaptoethanol extractable polypeptides found uniquely in scales of patients with psoriasis. J Invest Dermatol 70:38–41Google Scholar
  20. Thivolet J, Viac J, Staquet MJ, Schmitt D (1980) Utilisation des sérums anti-polypeptides de la kératine pour l'étude de la kératinisation normale et pathologique. Ann Dermatol Venereol 107:357–364Google Scholar
  21. Viac J, Staquet MJ, Thivolet J (1978) Relations antigéniques entre virus des papillomes humains (VPH). Etude expérimentale chez le cobaye. Ann Immunol (Paris) 1239C, 559–570Google Scholar
  22. Viac J, Schmitt D, Staquet MJ, Thivolet J, Ortonne JP, Bustamante R (1980a) Binding specificity of guinea pig anti-keratin polypeptide sera on human keratinocytes: comparison of their receptors with those of human epidermal cytoplasmic antibodies. Acta Dermatol-Venerol 60:189–196Google Scholar
  23. Viac C, Staquet MJ, Goujon C, Thivolet J (1980b) Experimental production of antibodies against stratum corneum keratin polypeptides. Arch Dermatol Res 267:179–188Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Françoise Bejui-Thivolet
    • 1
  • Jacqueline Viac
    • 2
  • Jean Thivolet
    • 2
  • Michel Faure
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire d'Anatomie Pathologique Hôpital de la Croix-RousseLyon Cédex 1France
  2. 2.U. 209 INSERM - ERA 788 CNRS, Laboratoire de Recherche Dermatologique, Hôpital Edouard HerriotLyon Cédex 2France

Personalised recommendations