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Genet Mol Res. 2002 Sep 30;1(3):246-60.

Micronucleus investigation of alcoholic patients with oral carcinomas.

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Biology/Genetic Department, Biosciences Institute, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


The micronucleus test (MN) is used as an indicator of genotoxic exposition, since it is associated with chromosome aberrations. An increased mutation rate in oral squamous cells, indicated by an increased MN frequency, is also related to the development of oral carcinomas. We evaluated the frequencies of MN and other metanucleated anomalies in the buccal squamous cells of 30 alcoholics with oral or oropharyngeal carcinomas, and compared them to a control group of abstinent health individuals. Microscopic examination was made of 2000 cells per individual from each of three distinct areas of the mouth: around the lesion (A), opposite to the lesion (B) and in the upper gingival-labial gutter (C); C was used as a control region because of low tumor frequency. There was a seven-fold increase in MN frequency in region B, a three-fold increase in region A and a two-fold, though nonsignificant, increase in C; indicating a gradient of frequencies towards carcinogenesis: C --> A --> B. Comparisons of frequencies of various types of metanucleated cells: binucleated, karyorrhexis (KR), karyolysis (KL) and broken egg (BE) in patients and controls showed, with few exceptions, highly significant differences. This gave us a better understanding of the dynamics of this squamous epithelium, supporting a more efficient biomonitor based on these various metanucleated anomalies: the repair index RI=(KL+KR)/(MN+BE). Also, the apparently contradictory results from regression analysis revealed that the MN frequency decreased with age and alcohol consumption, probably because of slow cell proliferation, and consequently led to a loss of homeostasis due to aging. In addition, in the analysis of nonparametric variables only one CAGE question was significant, confirming the effect of alcohol. In conclusion, the MN test and the repair index could be used for monitoring clinical evolution, by means of intra- and inter-individual cellular comparisons, in subjects with healed or surgically removed tumors or leukoplastic lesions, after chemo- or radiotherapeutic treatments.

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