Prognostic relevance of AgNORs in tumor pathology

Micron. 2000 Apr;31(2):133-41. doi: 10.1016/s0968-4328(99)00070-0.


The importance of the analysis of the silver-stained nucleolar organizer regions (AgNORs) for prognostic purposes in tumor pathology has been reviewed. Current available data from the literature demonstrate that the evaluation of the quantity of interphase AgNORs is an independent prognostic factor in several types of human tumors. Results of our investigations indicate that AgNORs are the most powerful variable predicting survival in patients with pharyngeal carcinoma, multiple myeloma, male breast and prostate carcinoma. The combination of AgNOR counts and histologic pattern allows the stratification of patients with multiple myeloma, pharyngeal and prostate carcinoma into low- and high-risk groups, which could benefit from different therapy. Moreover, AgNOR analysis predicts response to treatment in adult patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, and appears as an independent prognostic factor in a prospective study on renal cell carcinoma. Therefore, AgNOR analysis is a really important prognostic factor for several human neoplasias. The experimental and theoretical justifications for AgNORs as a prognostic factor are also reviewed, in particular the strict correlation between AgNOR quantity and tumor cell doubling time. Lastly, the lack of prognostic significance of AgNOR analysis in some circumstances is critically discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / ultrastructure*
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis*
  • Nucleolus Organizer Region* / chemistry
  • Nucleolus Organizer Region* / ultrastructure
  • Prognosis
  • Silver Staining*


  • Nuclear Proteins