We investigated the expression of heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) at intermediate stages of a cutaneous tumor induced by UVB-irradiation stress (290-380 nm, max. 312 nm) using an immunostaining method. [[After 15-20 weeks of chronic exposure to UVB irradiation at a dose of 2 kJ/m2, HSP27 was found in the upper cell layers of bowenoid multilayers of epidermis, in areas of the lesions where normal stratification seems to be conserved. After 25 weeks, HSP27 was weakly expressed in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The HSP27 distribution patterns during cutaneous tumor progression resemble that of cytokeratin 10, a differentiation marker in keratinocytes. In SCC, a low degree of HSP27 expression was detected in the well-differentiated carcinomatous areas, but not in the poorly differentiated areas. These results indicate that the level of HSP27 decreases significantly as epithelial carcinoma growth progresses upon UVB-exposure. The expression of HSP27 may be associated with the onset of skin keratinocyte differentiation, but not with progression of SCC.
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