Regeneration of hamster tracheal epithelium after mechanical injury - IV. Histochemical, immunocytochemical and ultrastructural studies

Kevin P. Keenan, Thomas S. Wilson, Elizabeth M. McDowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


All stages of regeneration in hamster tracheal epithelium were studied following a denuding mechanical injury. At 1 h all the cells had sloughed from the wound site leaving a bare and sometimes disrupted basal lamina. Viable cells at the wound margins rapidly changed shape, flattened and migrated to cover the denuded lesion by 12 h. In addition, epithelial cells that remained viable demonstrated sublethal changes that included the rapid discharge of mucous granules from secretory cells, internalization of cilia by ciliated cells and evidence of heterophagy in both cell types. By 24 h a wave of epithelial cell divisions occurred, primarily by secretory cells. This produced a multilayered epidermoid metaplasia that was best developed at 48 h. The metaplastic epithelium was largely composed of cells with both secretory (mucous granules) and epidermoid (tonofilament bundles and numerous desmosomes) characteristics. The peroxidase-antiperoxidase (PAP) method demonstrated a few keratin-positive cells in the wound as early as 12 h post-wounding and keratin was demonstrated in more cells by 24 h. All cells in the metaplastic wound epithelium were keratin-positive by 48 h. Following 48 h some of the most superficial keratinized cells sloughed from the epithelium and the keratin content of the remaining cells began to decline. At 72 h pre-ciliated and pre-secretory cells were seen in the wound. Pre-ciliated cells were characterized by an abundant electronlucent cytoplasm, large pale nucleus, filiform apical microvilli and evidence of ciliogenesis, similar to that seen during fetal development. Preciliated cells often contained apical mucous granules, apparently carried over from the parent secretory cells. With the appearance of these columnar cells the normal mucociliary morphology was restored in small wounds by 120 h, but some persistent epidermoid metaplasia remained in the large wounds through 168 h post-wounding. These data provide further evidence for the important role of secretory cells in the histogenesis of epidermoid metaplasia and the regeneration of normal morphology following injury. The implications of these findings in understanding the histogenesis of other lesions in the tracheobronchial epithelium are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-240
Number of pages28
JournalVirchows Archiv B Cell Pathology Including Molecular Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidermoid metaplasia
  • Keratin
  • Regeneration
  • Secretory cells
  • Trachea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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