The failure of fusion of nasal and maxillary processes results in cleft lip and palate (CLP), which is one of the most common birth defects. The morphopathogenesis of this pathology is multifactorial and still largely unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of nestin, transcriptor factor SOX3 (Sox3) and homeobox protein DLX-4 (Dlx-4) in complete unilateral (CU) and complete bilateral (CB) CLP affected facial tissue. Oral mucosa tissue samples were obtained from 17 CUCLP and 13 CBCLP patients during surgical cleft correction and 6 unaffected control subjects. Obtained tissue sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and by immunohistochemistry for nestin, Sox3 and Dlx-4. The intensity of staining was graded semiquantitatively. Nestin-positive structures were detected in all CUCLP and CBCLP patients’ tissue samples, varying from moderate number of nestin-positive structures to numerous. Sox3 immunoreactivity was more prominent in epithelial cells in both patient groups with frequently patchy distribution. Mainly moderate number of Dlx-4-positive cells was observed in most of tissue samples. Statistically significant moderate positive correlation was found between nestin and Sox3 factors in CUCLP patient group (Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient = .517, P = .034). Increase of nestin- positive structures suggests its role in the regulation of the remodeling of tissue in both CUCLP and CBCLP affected tissue. Dominance of Sox3 positivity in cleft affected epithelium indicates its possible role in (compensatory) formation of defective oral epithelium of CUCLP and CBCLP patients. The reduced expression of Dlx-4 implicates its limited regulatory role on the craniofacial development in CUCLP and CBCLP affected tissue.
KEY WORDS: Cleft lip and palate; Nestin; Transcriptor factor SOX3; Homeobox protein DLX-4.