Dr Nikhil Solomon Sundara Raj, Dr. Anita Ramdas


The micronuclei assay (MA) in exfoliated buccal cells is an innovative technique which holds promise for the screening of epithelial carcinogens/mutagens. Micronucleus is the small nucleus that forms whenever a chromosome or a fragment of a chromosome is not incorporated into one of the daughter nuclei during cell division. The micronucleus is thought to be an indicator of DNA damage consequent to possible carcinogen exposure.

 The objectives of our study were to evaluate the frequency of micronuclei in exfoliated buccal mucosal cells of smokers and non-smokers and to correlate the mean micronuclei with period of smoking.

Buccal smears obtained from 68 age matched male subjects (40 smokers, 28 non-smokers) were included in the study. Papanicoloau stained smears were screened for micronuclei as per Tolbert et al criteria, with 1000 cells being examined in both categories.

Results showed a statistically significant difference in the mean micronuclei count in buccal cells of smokers as compared to non smokers.

Micronucleus assay can be used as a simple bio-marker for screening of pre-malignant changes in cells.

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