Quantitative oral exfoliative cytology: Effect of alcohol on normal buccal mucosa

Graham Richard Ogden, Andrew John Wight, Jonathan George Cowpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of chronic alcohol intake on the DNA distribution and cell area of normal oral mucosal cells. STUDY DESIGN: Smears were taken from clinically normal buccal mucosa of 50 patients attending an alcohol-problem service (i.e., chronic alcohol use) and average alcohol units per week recorded. DNA distribution histograms and total cell area values were then compared to those obtained from smears taken from a control group (which included social drinkers) of patients attending for routine dental treatment. Nuclear DNA content was assessed on 100 randomly selected, Feulgen-stained nuclei using a Seescan TV image analysis system, and total cell area was assessed on 50 Papanicolaou-stained cells using the Vids V image analysis system. RESULTS: The DNA distribution histograms were essentially diploid in appearance for the alcohol group, although there was an increase in nuclear DNA content in the occasional nucleus. A highly significant reduction in total cell area was found for the alcohol group when compared to the controls. CONCLUSION: The chronic ingestion of alcohol is associated with a reduction in total cell area but appears to have little effect on nuclear DNA content. Our previous research using the same technique showed that oral cancers are frequently nondiploid. Thus, a nondiploid DNA distribution histogram for smears taken from a clinically suspicious lesion in someone who consumes excessive amounts of alcohol is unlikely to be due to alcohol use alone and should indicate biopsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-130
Number of pages5
JournalAnalytical and Quantitative Cytology and Histology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999


  • Alcoholism
  • Buccal mucosa
  • Exfoliative cytology
  • Histochemistry
  • Mouth diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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