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J Cytol. 2018 Oct-Dec;35(4):233-236. doi: 10.4103/JOC.JOC_141_17.

Micronuclei as a Predictor for Oral Carcinogenesis.

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Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS), Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.
Department of Dentistry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS), Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.



The aim of the study was to provide a quantitative evaluation of oral mucosal micronuclei (MN) frequency as a biomarker for oral cancer susceptibility in carcinogenesis progression.


60 patients were included in the study. 30 patients with biopsy proven epithelial dysplasia (ED, 15) and oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC, 15) comprised the study group and 30 patients with normal buccal mucosa, reporting for minor surgical procedures formed the controls. After informed consent, exfoliated cells were collected from the affected site using a premoistened wooden spatula and spread on precleaned slides, fixed, stained using modified rapid Papanicolaou method and subjected to microscopic examination. MN were identified and scored according to Tolbert et al. criteria.


Maximum patients with ED and OSCC were males and in age groups of 20-40 and 40-60 years, respectively. The most common site was the buccal mucosa. The maximum of MN count/500 cells in OSCC group was 11.93, 4.0 in ED and 1.46 in controls, with the mean and mean MN index ± SD distribution in the three groups showing high statistical significance (P = 0.000). A significant difference between mild and moderate ED and between moderately and well-differentiated OSCC was also observed.


MN assays can help in early detection of premalignant and malignant lesions, thereby improving survival and reducing morbidity associated with treatment. MN index is thus a feasible and economical method for screening high-risk populations of oral cancer, to be able to timely identify genomic damage in order to prevent the cancer epidemic.


Biomarkers; DNA damage; carcinogenesis; micronuclei; mouth neoplasms; precancerous conditions; squamous cell carcinoma

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