Upregulation of AgNOR expression in epithelial cells and neutrophils in the airways and leukocytes in peripheral blood of women chronically exposed to biomass smoke

Anal Quant Cytol Histol. 2011 Feb;33(1):50-9.


Objective: To evaluate the impact of indoor air pollution from biomass fuel use on ribosome biogenesis in airway cells and peripheral blood leukocytes using the argyrophilic nucleolar organizer region (AgNOR) staining technique.

Study design: Biomass users were represented by 78 never-smoking, premenopausal women from rural India and a control group of 73 age-matched women who cooked with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). For silver staining, exfoliated airway cells and circulating lymphocytes and neutrophils were obtained from expectorated sputum and venous blood smears, respectively. Particulate pollution in indoor air was measured by real-time aerosol monitor.

Results: Compared with the controls, a statistically significant increase was observed in mean number of AgNOR dots per nucleus, their size, and the percentage of NOR-occupied nuclear area in exfoliated airway epithelial cells, airway neutrophils, and circulating lymphocytes and neutrophils of biomass users. Biomass-using households had 2 to 4 times more particulate pollutants than that of LPG-using households; the changes in AgNOR expression, especially in proliferating basal cells, were positively associated with PM10 and PM2.5 levels in indoor air after controlling potential confounders such as age, kitchen location, and family income.

Conclusion: Indoor air pollution from biomass fuel use upregulates ribosome biogenesis in both the airways and peripheral blood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Antigens, Nuclear / blood
  • Antigens, Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Biofuels / adverse effects*
  • Cooking
  • Female
  • Hazardous Substances / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • India
  • Natural Gas
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Sputum / metabolism


  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Biofuels
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Natural Gas
  • Smoke
  • nucleolar organizer region associated proteins