Archives of dermatological research vol:286 issue:1 pages:62-8
The expression and distribution of metallothionein (MT) in frozen sections of normal and pathological human skin was studied using the monoclonal antibody L2E3 directed against MT derived from human fetal liver. Immunohistochemical staining of normal fetal and adult skin revealed strong reactivity in basal keratinocytes of epidermis and outer hair root sheath, hair matrix cells and the secretory coil, but not the exocrine portion of eccrine glands; myoepithelial cells around apocrine sweat glands were similarly stained. In epidermal hyperplasia, variable numbers of suprabasal keratinocytes were stained, whereas in interface dermatitis, interrupted staining was found in the basal layer. Weak or scattered staining was observed in squamous tumours, whereas basal cell carcinomas did not show consistent staining. The distribution of MT in normal skin was in line with the germinative role of basal keratinocytes and hair matrix cells, whereas its distribution in hyperplastic epidermis was in line with experimental animal data, and reflected the increase in the germinative pool in these conditions. It is concluded that monoclonal antibody L2E3 may serve as a valuable immunohistochemical marker in diagnostic cutaneous pathology since it labels basal keratinocytes selectively, and since it discriminates between eccrine and apocrine sweat glands.