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Archived Comments for: Clinical significance of epithelial-mesenchymal transition

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  1. History of epithelial-mesenchymal transition

    György Miklós Buzás, Ferencváros Health Service

    12 November 2014

    Letter to the Editor: Clinical and Translational Medicine Dear Editors: I read with great interest the article of Steinestel K et al concerning the clinical significance of epithelial-mesenchymal transition.1 The original description of this phenomenon is credited by the authors to Greenburg G et al2 from Harvard University, Boston: in 1982, they showed that epithelial cells from adult and embryonic anterior lenses suspended in three-dimensional collagen gel lose polarity, develop pseudopodia and acquire a morphology indistinguishable from mesenchymal cells in vivo. The authors cite 20 references dated from 1968 to 1979. However, a more profound study of the literature reveals that a similar transformation of epithelial into mesenchymal cells was described in 1908 by Hungarian pathologist Ödön (Edmund) Krompercher.3 By studying human skin and salivary gland tumours, he was able to demonstrate that basal cells of the epithelia in contact with hyaline undergo the same transformation, resembling mesenchymal cells. Ödön Krompecher was born in Poprád (now in Slovakia) in 1870, in an ancient noble family. His medical studies began in 1889 and he obtained his medical degree in 1894. From 1893 he worked at the 2nd Institute of Pathology, at Pázmány Péter University, Budapest. Due to his talent, he primarily conducted research: in his first project, he studied the division of tumour cells. Later, he spent 6 months at the famous Pasteur Institute in Paris. His major achievement was the description of basal cell carcinoma (basalioma), written in 1903 with dermatologist Soma Beck (1872-1930), which is largely cited even today. Between 1913 and 1926, he was Director of the 1st Institute of Pathology, in 1915 was elected corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Science. He married in 1904 and had 4 children. His hobbies included handicrafts, arts, ornithology and mountain climbing. He died in 1926.4   References: 1. Steinestel K, Eder S, Jan Scrader A, Steinestel J: Clinical significance of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Clinical and Translational Medicine 2014, 3:17. 2. Greenburg G, Hay ED: Epithelila suspended in collagen gels can lose polarity and express characteristics of migrating mesenchymal cells. J Cell Biol 1982, 95: 333-339. 3. Krompecher E. Über die Beziehungen zwischen Epithel und Bindegewebe bei den Mischgeschwülsten der Haut und der Speicheldrüsen und über das Entstehen der Karcinosarkome. Beit.z. pathol. Anat. u. z. all. Pathol., 1908, 44: 147-165. 4. Hungarian Biographic Lexicon 1000-1990,, accessed on October 7, 2014.

    Acknowledgement. The consultation of  Dr.József Honti MD as pathologist  is highly acknowledged. 

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