Methods: Resected keloid (n = 19) and normal skin (n = 13) samples were subjected to immunohistochemical, immunofluorescent, and Western blot analyses of their expression of epidermal (E-cadherin) and mesenchymal (vimentin) proteins.
Results: Immunohistochemical analysis showed that the keloid tissues had more vimentin-positive cells in the epidermis than the normal tissues. When normal primary keratinocytes were cultured with proinflammatory cytokines, the cobblestone-shaped cells changed to a spindle shape and many vimentin-positive cells were detected. When immortalized HaCaT keratinocytes were cocultured in split-well plates with normal or keloid-derived fibroblasts, they also underwent EMT, as indicated by their greater vimentin expression on Western blot analysis compared with HaCaT cells that were cultured alone.
Conclusions: EMT was observed in keloid specimens. EMT was induced by inflammatory cytokines and fibroblasts. EMT may be involved in keloid generation and/or aggravation and may have potential as a keloid treatment target.