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J Cancer Res Ther. 2019 Jul-Sep;15(3):463-469. doi: 10.4103/jcrt.JCRT_522_17.

Oral submucous fibrosis: An enigmatic morpho-insight.

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Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Sharad Pawar Dental College and Hospital, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (DU), Wardha, Maharashtra, India.
Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, Modern Dental College, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India.


Oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) is a chronic progressive, scarring disease affecting oral, oropharyngeal, and sometimes the esophageal mucosa. It is characterized by the progressive fibrosis of the submucosal tissue. The pathogenesis of OSMF has been directly related to the habit of chewing areca nut and its commercial preparation, which is widespread in Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The areca nut has been classified as a "group one human carcinogen." Oral squamous cell carcinoma in the background of OSMF is one of the most common malignancies in South and Southeast Asian countries. Malignant transformation has been reported in 7%-12% cases of OSMF. Histopathological spectrum of OSMF includes the apparent alterations observed in the epithelium and connective tissue. Epithelial atrophy and sometimes epithelial hyperplasia with or without dysplasia are the peculiar alterations seen in the epithelium. In the connective tissue, there is extracellular matrix remodeling which results in excessive collagenization. Further cross-linking of collagen leads to hyalinization which makes the collagen resistant to proteolysis. Owing to fibrosis in the connective tissue, there is narrowing of blood vessels which further results in compromised blood supply to the local tissue milieu, that is, hypoxia. This tissue hypoxia elicits angiogenesis which may result in the malignant transformation of OSMF. Perpetual irritation of areca nut and its constituents to the oral mucosa leads to upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and further juxtaepithelial inflammation. Thus, these coordinated reactions in epithelium and connective tissue leads the OSMF toward malignant transformation.


Areca nut; oral squamous cell carcinoma; oral submucous fibrosis

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