Morphologic changes in Basal cells during repair of tracheal epithelium

Cheng Z. Wang, Michael J. Evans, Robert A. Cox, Ann S. Burke, Qingyan Zhu, David N. Herndon, Robert E. Barrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Basal cells are differentiated with respect to junctional adhesion mechanisms and play a role in attachment of columnar epithelium to the basal lamina. Although much is known about nonciliated and ciliated cell differentiation during the repair process after injury, little is known about the basal cell. We studied the morphology of basal cells and quantitated junctional adhesion structures during repair of tracheal epithelium exposed to toxic cotton smoke. Ten adult ewes were given a smoke injury to a portion of the upper cervical trachea and were killed at 4, 6, 8, 10, and 18 days after injury for morphometric studies. At 4 days, there was a stratified reparative epithelium over the basal lamina, which was two to four cells in depth. The basal cells were identified by their hemidesmosome (HD) attachment to the basal lamina. Basal cells were about 69% larger than controls and flattened rather than columnar. The amount of HD attachment was 192% greater than controls. In contrast, volume density of cytokeratin filaments had decreased about 47%. Basal cells had returned to normal numbers and size and a columnar shape by day 18. The amount of desmosome (D) and HD attachment and volume density of cytokeratins had also reached control levels by day 18. These data indicate that morphology of basal cells changes during the initial stages of reparative regeneration but returns to normal by 18 days. Morphologic changes appear to reflect changes in size of the cell associated with cell division rather than differentiation of recently divided basal cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-759
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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