Desmoglein 3 and keratin 10 expressions are reduced by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke in human keratinised oral mucosa explants

Elena Donetti, Alice Gualerzi, Marzia Bedoni, Tatiana Volpari, Michele Sciarabba, Gianluca Tartaglia, Chiarella Sforza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Oral mucosa is a physiological barrier against several exogenous stimuli, among which cigarette smoke represents a source of reactive oxidizing compounds. No morphological evidences exist on the smoke effects induced in the human oral epithelium. In this study we performed a preliminary light and transmission electron microscopy morphological evaluation focussing in particular on keratinocyte intercellular adhesion and terminal differentiation in chronic smokers. Design: Human biopsies were obtained from healthy young chronic smoker women (n = 5) compared with a parallel group of non-smoker healthy volunteers (n = 5), as the smoking habit among women is ever more spreading. Samples were processed for light and transmission electron microscopy. On paraffin sections Masson's and Dane and Herman's histochemical staining were performed. Biomarker expressions of intercellular adhesion (desmoglein 3, Dsg3), terminal differentiation (keratin 10, K10 and keratin 14, K14), and basal membrane preservation (laminin) were investigated by immunofluorescence. Results: In both groups the epithelial structural integrity, homeostasis, and the basal membrane were comparable. Dsg3 and K10 expressions were affected in smokers with the former significantly reduced (p <0.05). Ultrastructural analysis showed hypertrophic keratinocytes in the upper spinous layer and morphologically preserved desmosomes throughout the epithelial compartment. Conclusions: The reduction of Dsg3 and K10 expressions indicates that the overall process of keratinocyte terminal differentiation was altered. These preliminary results strongly suggest that Dsg3 and K10 can represent valuable immunomarkers to evaluate the tissue attempt to respond to an exogenous stress such as chronic cigarette smoke, but further samples need to be analysed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-823
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • Cytoskeleton
  • Electron microscopy
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Human oral keratinocytes
  • Intercellular junctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Cell Biology
  • Dentistry(all)


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