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Role of Filaggrin Expression in Squamous and Basal Cell Carcinomas

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Friday, April 2, 2021

According to findings presented in the Journal of Cutaneous Pathology, expression patterns of the protein filaggrin appear to be different based on the type of squamous cell carcinoma when comparing well-differentiated, poorly differentiated, and moderately differentiated cases. This finding suggests that filaggrin staining may offer clinical utility for characterizing squamous cell carcinoma in cases where the diagnosis may be difficult, concluded Yuka Asai, MD, PhD, of the Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues.

“Our findings of aberrant or absent expression in squamous cell carcinoma and absent expression in most basal cell carcinoma support the role of filaggrin in ultraviolet protection and carcinogenesis,” the authors added.

In this trial, the authors created tissue microarrays using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded squamous cell carcinoma samples (196) and basal cell carcinoma samples (144). The tissue microarrays and sections of reactive squamous epithelium were stained with antifilaggrin antibody and evaluated for filaggrin expression.

The authors found that filaggrin was absent in poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma cases compared with well-differentiated and moderately differentiated cases. The same went for the absence of filaggrin in moderately differentiated cases compared with well-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma cases.

There was a significant increase in abnormal staining in poorly differentiated cases compared with well-differentiated cases, as well as moderately differentiated cases compared with well-differentiated cases. Most cases of basal cell carcinoma did not demonstrate filaggrin expression. Reactive squamous epithelium exhibited normal, though exaggerated, filaggrin expression.

Disclosure: For full disclosure of the study authors, visit

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