Epithelial expression of keratinocytes growth factor in oral precancer lesions

T. V. P. Sudha, S. Murali, Susan L. Zunt, Lawrence I. Goldblatt, Mythily Srinivasan


Background: Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) is a potent epithelial mitogen that acts by
binding the KGF receptors (KGFRs) expressed on epithelial cells and regulates proliferation and
differentiation. The objective of this study was to investigate the expression of KGF in the epithelium
in oral precancer.
Materials and Methods: Archival tissues of oral submucous fibrosis (SMF) and leukoplakia
were assessed for epithelial KGF expression by immunohistochemistry and real‑time quantitative
polymerase chain reaction.
Results: KGF was predominantly expressed in the basal and parabasal cells in the epithelium of
SMF tissues. KGF transcript in the epithelial cells increased with increasing severity of epithelial
dysplasia in oral leukoplakia.
Conclusion: Although widely reported as a product secreted by the mesenchymal cells, our data
suggest that the KGF is also expressed in oral epithelial cells much like the expression in ovarian
epithelial cells. Based on the localization of KGF in cells at the epithelial mesenchymal junction
and that of the reported presence of KGFR in oral keratinocytes, a potential mechanism involving
paracrine and autocrine interactions of KGF and KGFR in early stages of oral precancer is postulated.


Epithelium, keratinocyte growth factor, leukoplakia, oral submucous fibroses

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