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Keratins are the main group of around 30 structural intermediate filaments found in epithelial cells. They are important structural elements in skin, forming the protective barrier of the stratum corneum, hair and nails.

Two types of gene code for either half of the double filament structure of keratin. In turn, each double filament may intertwine with similar structures to form relatively strong superstructures: fibrils. The process of keratin deposition is termed keratinization and within the skin, it takes place during the progression of keratinocytes from stratum basale upwards to stratum corneum.

Disorder of keratin structure and deposition can give rise to a number of dermatological conditions detailed further in the submenu.

Last reviewed 01/2018