Histologic grading and nucleolar organizer regions in oral squamous cell carcinomas


  • João Adolfo Costa Hanemann Federal University of Alfenas; Department of Stomatology
  • Marta Miyazawa University of São Paulo; Bauru School of Dentistry; Department of Stomatology
  • Mireile São Geraldo dos Santos Souza Integrated Federal Colleges of Diamantina; Dental School; Department of Oral Pathology




Oral cancer, Nucleolar organizer regions, Histologic grading


OBJECTIVE: The purposes of this study were to histologically assess different types of oral squamous cell carcinoma and the silver-binding nucleolar organizer region (AgNOR) morphology in neoplastic cells, as well as to quantify the number of AgNORs in each type of carcinoma in order to relate AgNOR count and histologic grading. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Twenty-eight cases of oral squamous cell carcinoma were divided into 4 groups, namely well-differentiated, moderately differentiated, poorly differentiated, and undifferentiated. For NOR study, 3-µm-thick sections were stained with 50% aqueous silver nitrate solution. The predominant microscopic pattern of NORs was determined. Quantitative analyses of NORs were obtained of all cells present on each histological field using a 0.025 mm² eyepiece graticule. Different histological fields were analyzed until the total number of NORs was 120 cells for each tumor. Kruskall-Wallis test was applied to compare the groups of sample data at a significance level of p=0.05. RESULTS: The mean number of AgNORs per nucleus was 3.20 for the well-differentiated group, 5.33 for the moderately differentiated one, 8.27 for the poorly differentiated one, and 10.08 for the undifferentiated one. AgNOR count was significantly different (p<0.05) among all of the studied groups. CONCLUSION: AgNOR staining technique seems to be a useful diagnostic tool since differences in AgNOR numeric values can be identified in the different types of oral squamous cell carcinoma. This technique is easy to handle and inexpensive, thus justifying its large use in histopathology.


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