Morphological evidence for the role of suprabasal keratinocytes in wound reepithelialization

Wound Repair Regen. 2005 Sep-Oct;13(5):468-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1067-1927.2005.00067.x.


The process by which wounds reepithelialize remains controversial. Two models have been proposed to describe reepithelialization: the "sliding" model and the "rolling" model. In the "sliding" model, basal keratinocytes are the principal cells responsible for migration and wound closure. In this model, basal and suprabasal keratinocytes remain strongly attached to leading edge basal keratinocytes and are then passively dragged along as a sheet. The "rolling" model postulates that basal keratinocytes remain strongly attached to the basement membrane zone while suprabasal keratinocytes at the wound margin are activated to roll into the wound site. The purpose of this study was to determine which populations of keratinocytes are actively involved in reepithelialization. We evaluated expression of keratins K14, K15, K10, K2e, and K16 as well as the proliferation marker Ki67 in the migrating tongue of normal human incisional 1-hour to 28-day wounds and normal human 3 mm diameter excisional 1- to 7-day wounds. Our results show dramatic changes in phenotype and protein expression of keratins K10, K2e, K14, K15, and K16 in suprabasal keratinocytes in response to injury. We conclude that this large population of suprabasal keratinocytes actively participates in wound closure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / physiology*
  • Keratinocytes / physiology*
  • Keratins / physiology*
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / injuries
  • Skin / physiopathology*
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Keratins