Saliva is an important factor in the oral cavity and could be significant in protecting against carcinogens. In experimental models of carcinogenesis, saliva was shown to have a temporary protective effect against the carcinogens DMBA and 4-nitroquinoline-oxide (4NQO). Silver-stained nucleolar organizer regions (AgNORs) are considered markers for both proliferative capacity and prognosis. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of desalivation on AgNOR parameters in lesions induced by the carcinogen 4NQO in a rat model, in order to trace early nuclear changes. The study group consisted of 120 male Wistar-derived rats. The experimental group (n=56) underwent surgical desalivation; the control group (n=56) underwent a sham operation, and both groups were administered a solution of 0.001% 4NQO in the drinking water. A normal group (n=8) did not receive surgery and drank tap water. Rats were sacrificed at 7,14,22, and 28 weeks. Formalin fixed, paraffin embedded sections of the tongue were silver-stained and AgNOR parameters were analyzed using computerized image analysis. In both desalivated and control groups, the nuclear area was significantly higher than the normal. This difference was already evident at 7 weeks. The mean AgNOR area was significantly higher in the desalivated group at week 7 and continued to increase over time. The mean AgNOR number was also significantly higher in the desalivated group at week 7. Differences between the desalivated and control groups diminished with time. These changes in proliferative activity, as expressed by AgNOR parameters, presented earlier changes in comparison to those observed in microscopic examination of the same slides. Results suggest that saliva in the oral cavity can delay malignant transformation, but continued exposure to the carcinogen overrides this effect. AgNOR stain seems to be sensitive and allows for early identification of intranuclear changes.
- Tongue carcinogenesis