Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is the most common malignant salivary gland tumor, composed of several different cell types, with controversial histogenesis. The aim of this study was to assess the expression of cytokeratins in mucoepidermoid carcinoma, comparing to cytokeratin expression in normal salivary glands, in order to establish a possible correlation between tumor cells immunostaining and mucoepidermoid carcinoma histogenesis and differentiation. Eighty cases of salivary gland mucoepidermoid carcinoma were immunohistochemically examined with the use of antibodies against cytokeratins 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 18, and 19. Cytokeratin expression varied according to the cellular type: squamous cells presented high expression of cytokeratins 6, 7, 8, 14, 18, and 19; intermediate and mucous cells of cytokeratin 7; clear and columnar cells of cytokeratins 6, 7, 8 and the latter also expressed cytokeratin 18. Cytokeratin 13 expression was low in all cell types. Cytokeratin immunoexpression in mucoepidermoid carcinoma was variable according to the cellular type; but regardless of the cellular type studied, cytokeratins 7 and 13 were, respectively, constantly high and low expressed. The immunoprofile of the normal salivary glands was variable according to the component but, in general, cytokeratin profile in mucoepidermoid carcinoma showed similarity to the immunoexpression on the excretory duct unit of normal salivary glands.
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