The effect of glue snuffle on the expression of argyrophilic nucleolar organizer regions (AgNORs), an indicator of ribosome biosynthesis, in epithelial cells of oral mucosa has been investigated. AgNOR was evaluated by cytochemical staining in 148 Indian street boys (median age 12 year) who had different bad addictions like tobacco smoking, chewing and most importantly inhaling glue and 20 age- and body mass index-matched school boys who had no such type of bad habit. Compared with school boys, glue addicted street boys showed remarkably increased number of AgNOR dots per nucleus (9.38±1.84 vs. 3.12±0.87, p<0.001), AgNOR size (1.34±0.52 vs. 0.43±0.02 μm(2), p<0.001) and percentage of AgNOR occupied nuclear area (9.38±2.12 vs. 0.99±0.03%, p<0.001). Increase in number and size of the dots is also higher in tobacco smokers and chewers when compared with school boys but a remarkable difference was recorded in glue addicted boys. The changes in AgNOR expression were positively associated with years of addiction after controlling potential confounders. Thus, glue snuffle appeared to be a risk factor for abnormal cell growth via up-regulation of ribosome biogenesis.
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