December 14, 2023

In pathology, keratinization describes squamous cells producing and accumulating large amounts of a protein called keratin. Microscopically, this makes the cells look pink when stained with a combination of dyes called hematoxylin and eosin (H&E).  These cells appear pink because the keratin binds strongly with eosin which is a pink stain.

In some areas of the body, such as the skin, keratinization is a normal process. That is because cells that produce keratin are stronger than other cells which makes them good at forming a barrier between the outside world and the inside of the body.  Keratinization can also be abnormal. For example, too much keratin causes us to develop callouses from wearing ill-fitting shoes or repeated use of equipment with our hands. Some types of cancer, for example, squamous cell carcinoma, can also show keratinization.

About this article

This article was written by doctors to help you read and understand your pathology report for anaplastic thyroid carcinoma. Contact us if you have any questions about this article or your pathology report. Read this article for a more general introduction to the parts of a typical pathology report.

Other helpful resources

Atlas of Pathology
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