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J Oral Pathol Med. 2008 Feb;37(2):70-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0714.2007.00596.x.

RNA from brush oral cytology to measure squamous cell carcinoma gene expression.

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Department of Oral Medicine Diagnostic Sciences, Center for Molecular Biology of Oral Diseases, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60610, USA.



RNA expression analysis of oral keratinocytes can be used to detect early stages of disease such as oral cancer or to monitor on-going treatment responses of the same or other oral diseases. A limitation is the inability to obtain high quality RNA from oral tissue without using biopsies. While oral cytology cell samples can be obtained from patients in a minimally invasive manner they have not been validated for quantitative analysis of RNA expression.


As a starting point in the analysis of tumor markers in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), we examined RNA in brush cytology samples from hamsters treated with dibenzo[a,l]pyrene to induce oral carcinoma. Three separate samples from each animal were assessed for expression of candidate marker genes and control genes measured with real-time RT-PCR.


Brush oral cytology samples from normal mucosa were shown to consist almost exclusively of epithelial cells. Remarkably, ss-2 microglobulin and cytochrome p450, 1B1 (CYP1B1) RNA showed potential utility as markers of OSCC in samples obtained in this rapid and non-surgical manner.


Brush oral cytology may prove useful as a source of RNA for gene expression analysis during the progression of diseases of the oral epithelium such as OSCC.

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