The expression of cytokeratins (CKs) in normal cervical ephitelium, low grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL), high grade SILs and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) were analyzed using four different monoclonal antikeratin antibodies. In normal cervical epithelium, CK 18 showed strong immunoreactivity in basal and parabasal layers. CK 19 and 14 were expressed only in the basal layer while CK 13 was found selectively in the spinal cells. As the lesions progressed from low grade SIL to high grade SIL, immunoreactivity of CK 18, 19 and 14 in the basal cell compartment increased while the expression of CK 13 decreased. In SCC, well-differentiated tumors showed decreased immunoreactivity for CK 18, 19 and 14 with CK 13 showing a strong and focal (localized) immunoreactivity. Undifferentiated carcinomas totally lacked CK 13 reactivity. Our findings therefore suggest that expression of CK 18, 19 and 14 may be directly related to tumor grade and CK 13 may be a marker of differentiation in cervical lesions.

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