In order to investigate the re-epithelialization process during wound healing, the hair on the back of guinea pigs was shaved and then excisional wounds were made through the entire thickness of the skin. Histological changes were observed and changes in the expression of different cytokeratin polypeptides were examined using an immunohistochemical technique. Immunohistochemical study revealed that the proliferating and migrating keratinocytes expressed the same cytokeratins as the basal cells of normal epidermis. In addition, the entire epidermis of fairly remote areas from the edges of the wound where no thickening was observed showed a temporarily abnormal staining pattern. The suprabasal cells in the regenerating epidermis temporarily expressed cytokeratins not only specific for suprabasal cells but also specific for basal cells. The cytokeratins expressed in normal basal keratinocytes were also present in the thickened granular layers. These data indicate that the expression of cytokeratins in the epidermal keratinocytes (even in fairly remote areas from the wound edges) changes during wound healing, that the origin of the migrating keratinocytes from the remaining epidermis seems to be the basal cells in the epidermis, and that the appearance of keratohyalin granules is not related to changes in cytokeratin expression.
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