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Exp Gerontol. 2008 Sep;43(9):833-9. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2008.06.001. Epub 2008 Jun 12.

Basal cells have longest telomeres measured by tissue Q-FISH method in lingual epithelium.

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Research Team for Geriatric Diseases, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, 35-2, Sakae-cho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-0015, Japan.


We investigated the telomere lengths of individual cell types in lingual mucosa using an improved tissue quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization (Q-FISH) method. Our tissue Q-FISH method compensates for partially cut nuclei in a tissue section by using the telomere:centromere ratio (TCR). We normalized our TCR measurements (NTCR) using a section from a block of cultured cells placed on the same slide, thus improving the accuracy and reproducibility of the results. Normal lingual mucosa was obtained from 21 autopsied individuals. Immunohistochemistry showed positivity mainly for p27, p63, and CK19 in basal cells, and for Ki-67 in parabasal cells. Q-FISH revealed that NTCR was significantly highest in basal cells and lowest in prickle cells, and also that telomere length regressed at a certain rate in each cell type, firstly. Significant correlations of NTCR among the three epithelial cell types were demonstrated. The present findings appear to support the theory that stem cells exist in the basal layer of the lingual epithelium. The reduction of telomere length with age and in each cell layer is consistent with the telomere biology theory of cell proliferation and differentiation in oral mucosa.

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