Purpose: The p63 gene has been identified as a marker of epithelial stem cells. Because pterygium may arise through an expansion of the proliferative capacity of the conjunctiva, we sought to document the expression of p63 in normal conjunctiva and pterygium specimens.
Methods: Immunostaining for p63 expression was performed on 10 pairs of pterygium and normal conjunctiva using a monoclonal antibody directed against human p63.
Results: Immunopositive reactions were seen in all samples. Levels of p63-positive cells were not statistically different between pterygium and normal conjunctivae (P = 0.7).
Conclusion: These results strongly support previous studies that indicate that pterygium arises as a result of incorrect control of cellular apoptosis rather than from an increase in proliferative capacity.