Background The GATA family of transcription factors is an essential regulator of cellular proliferation and differentiation. In the skin, GATA-3 is critical for epidermal stratification and maintenance of barrier function. A role for GATA-3 in the development of human cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is not known. Here, we investigated GATA-3 immunohistochemical staining in premalignant and invasive cutaneous SCC from sun-exposed and sun-protected skin. Methods GATA-3 immunohistochemistry was performed on actinic keratoses (AK) (n = 19), in situ squamous cell carcinomas with actinic [SCCIS (A)] (n = 9) or bowenoid features [SCCIS (B)] (n = 17), well-, moderately and poorly differentiated SCC (n = 36), Bowenoid papulosis of the perineum (n = 15) and penile SCC (pSCC) (n = 10). Results We found that GATA-3 immunohistochemical staining is progressively lost in sun-exposed skin as neoplasia progresses from pre-cancerous AK to SCCIS (A), and ultimately, to SCC, which shows near absent GATA-3 staining. This reduction in GATA-3 staining is independent of histological grade in SCC. Only slight down-regulation of GATA-3 was seen in all cases of SCCIS (B) and Bowenoid papulosis, while near absent GATA-3 expression was seen in pSCC. Conclusion We propose that decreased GATA-3 immunohistochemical staining is associated with cutaneous SCC progression on both sun-exposed and sun-protected sites.
- actinic keratosis
- squamous cell carcinoma
- squamous cell carcinoma in situ