Document Detail

Cytomorphometric and cytomorphologic analysis of oral mucosa in children with sickle cell anemia.
Jump to Full Text
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23833399     Owner:  NLM     Status:  PubMed-not-MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder, characterized by chronic hemolytic anemia, episodic painful crises, and pathologic involvement of many organs, consequence of vaso occlusive phenomenon and vasculopathy. Several forms of the chronic anemia, consequence of hemolysis, can be associated with oral epithelial cells changes. Exfoliative cytology can be used to detect real changes in the oral mucosa in SCA.
AIMS: To evaluate morphometric and morphological changes in oral epithelial cells by exfoliative cytology in children with SCA.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Oral smears were collected from clinically normal-appearing mucosa by liquid-based exfoliative cytology in 20 SCA children (SCA group) and 20 healthy children (C group), matched for age and gender. The slides were prepared and stained by the Papanicolaou technique. Cell morphology and cellularity were analyzed and compared by Chi-square test (P < 0.05). Images of 50 cells per slide were captured and the nuclear area (NA) and cytoplasmic area (CA) were analyzed using an image analysis system. The nucleus-to-cytoplasmic area ratio (NA/CA) was calculated. To compare the means of groups SCA and C, the Student's t-test (P < 0.05) was applied to NA and CA; test non-parametric Mann Whitney U (P < 0.05) was used to compare NA/CA.
RESULTS: MEAN VALUES FOR SCA AND C GROUPS WERE: NA (69.38 and 59.63 μm²; P = 0.01); CA (2321.85 and 2185.60 μm²; P = 0.24); NA/CA (0.03 and 0.02; P = 0.13), respectively. A significant increase in NA for SCA group (P = 0.01) was seen. No morphological differences were found between the groups. There was a predominance of nucleated cells of the superficial layer in the smears of both groups. Class I smears were predominant in both groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed that SCA was able to induce significant changes on nuclear area of the oral epithelial cells.
Juliana Umetsu Paraizo; Itauana Aliete Vettorello Rech; Luciana Reis Azevedo-Alanis; Mara Albonei Dudeque Pianovski; Antonio Adilson Soares De Lima; Maria Ângela Naval Machado
Related Documents :
23395439 - H2a.z sets the stage in escs.
25091859 - Comparison of expression and proliferative effect of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activa...
25128809 - Par polarity: from complexity to design principles.
23456839 - The cd28/b7 pathway: a novel regulator of plasma cell function.
24359549 - Rnai-mediated inhibition of apoptosis fails to prevent cationic nanoparticle-induced ce...
25038529 - Epigenetic regulation of tissue factor inducibility in endothelial cell senescence.
8729479 - Changes in the rheological properties of the cell wall of plant seedlings under simulat...
24052379 - Detecting camp with an epac-based fret sensor in single living cells.
14723709 - Pmr1, a p-type atpase, and pdt1, an nramp homologue, cooperatively regulate cell morpho...
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of cytology / Indian Academy of Cytologists     Volume:  30     ISSN:  0970-9371     ISO Abbreviation:  J Cytol     Publication Date:  2013 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-07-08     Completed Date:  2013-07-08     Revised Date:  2013-07-10    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8915204     Medline TA:  J Cytol     Country:  India    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  104-8     Citation Subset:  -    
Department of Dentistry, Biological and Health Sciences Center, Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná, Curitiba/PR, Brazil.
Export Citation:
APA/MLA Format     Download EndNote     Download BibTex
MeSH Terms

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Full Text
Journal Information
Journal ID (nlm-ta): J Cytol
Journal ID (iso-abbrev): J Cytol
Journal ID (publisher-id): JCytol
ISSN: 0970-9371
ISSN: 0974-5165
Publisher: Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, India
Article Information
Copyright: © Journal of Cytology
Print publication date: Season: Apr-Jun Year: 2013
Volume: 30 Issue: 2
First Page: 104 Last Page: 108
PubMed Id: 23833399
ID: 3701333
Publisher Id: JCytol-30-104
DOI: 10.4103/0970-9371.112652

Cytomorphometric and cytomorphologic analysis of oral mucosa in children with sickle cell anemia
Juliana Umetsu Paraizoaff1
Itauana Aliete Vettorello Rech1
Luciana Reis Azevedo-Alanisaff1
Mara Albonei Dudeque Pianovski2
Antonio Adilson Soares De Lima1
Maria Ângela Naval Machado1
Department of Dentistry, Biological and Health Sciences Center, Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná, Curitiba/PR, Brazil
1Department of Stomatology, Faculty of Dentistry, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba/PR, Brazil
2Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba/PR, Brazil
Correspondence: Address for correspondence: Dr. Maria Ângela Naval Machado, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Avenida Prefeito Lothário Meissner 632, CEP: 80210-170 Curitiba/PR, Brazil. E-mail:


Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder characterized by homozygous hemoglobin S.[1] The clinical findings related to anemia affecting mainly the oral mucosa are atrophy, pale mucosa, depapillation of the tongue, and occasionally recurrent aphthous ulceration.[2, 3] Studies using exfoliative cytology or liquid-based exfoliative cytology have demonstrated that the nuclear and cytoplasmic areas of the epithelial cells in oral mucosa may be modified due to systemic conditions, such as anemia,[3] diabetes,[4] or in response of local agents such as tobacco,[5, 6] alcohol,[7] and crack.[8, 9] The purpose of this study was to evaluate quantitative changes in oral epithelial cells by exfoliative cytology in children with sickle cell anemia.

Materials and Methods

The experimental protocol of the present study was approved by Committee of Ethics in Research at the University. The patients and/or their parents or guardians were informed about the objective and other aspects of the research and they have signed the terms of agreement.


The experimental group was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at Clinical Hospital at the Hematology Ambulatory Care Service and the control group was from School of Dentistry. Name, age, relevant medical history, and drugs in use were recorded.

Twenty patients with SCA and 20 healthy patients (C) aged from 1 to 13 years old, paired regarding sex and age, were considered for the study. Children who utilized mouthwashes or orthodontic braces as well as presenting lesions in their oral mucosa were excluded from this sample, in order to minimize the possible effects of such conditions upon the epithelial cell morphology. In control group, children with any systemic disease were also excluded from the sample.

Cells collection

Exfoliated cells of the clinically normal oral mucosa were obtained by oral liquid-based exfoliative cytology. The squamous epithelial cells were collected using Universal Collection Medium (UCM) kit of DNA-Citoliq SystemTM (Digene, São Paulo, Brazil). The UCM brush provides an adequate and representative number of superficial and intermediate epithelial cells of oral mucosa.

Cytological preparations

The DNA-Citoliq SystemTM allows thin-layer preparations to be provided through a filtration process. An aliquot of 200 μL of UCM was filtered through Filtrogene polycarbonate membrane filtersTM (Digene, São Paulo, Brazil), pore size 5 μm, diameter 25 mm placed in Prepgene pressTM (Digene, São Paulo, Brazil) attached to glass slides. Glass slides were immediately fixed in absolute alcohol for 20 min. Smears were then stained with routine Papanicolaou stain.

Cytomorphometric analysis

Each slide was assessed using the light microscopy by binocular Olympus BX 50 microscopyTM (Olympus, Japan). Fifty randomly selected cells were measured in a stepwise fashion. Cells images were captured by Olympus DP 25 microscope digital cameraTM (Olympus Latin America Inc, Miami, USA) at ×400 magnification. Nuclear area (NA) and cytoplasmic area (CA) were obtained by drawing around the nuclear and cell boundaries using the digitizer cursor and measuring mode[4] of AnalySIS image systemTM (Olympus Soft Imaging Solutions GmbH, Münster, Germany) for Windows XPTM 2008.

The NA/CA ratio of the epithelial cells of each sample was calculated. All smears were analyzed by the same person, who was previously trained to make the morphometric evaluation.

Cytomorphological analysis

Each slide was assessed using the light microscopy by binocular Olympus BX 50 microscopyTM (Olympus, Japan). All cellular features were coded according to Papanicolaou classification.[10] Papanicolaou staining is used as a routine method for the analysis of cytological aspects and permits the identification of basic inflammatory, dysplastic, or malignant alterations.[11] Additionally, the type of predominant cell (cellularity) in each smear was analyzed too.

Statistical analysis

All data were tabulated and statistical tests were performed with SPSS for Windows 13.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Tests of normality Kolmogorov-Smirnov, Shapiro Wilk test, and Levene's homogeneity of variances were applied for all variables. Significant statistical differences of the mean values of variables between groups were examined using Student's t-test or Mann Whitney U test. Chi-square test was used to verify if there was difference in morphological characterization and predominance of cells of oral smears according to groups. Differences were considered statistically significant when P < 0.05.


The screened patients included 12 males and 28 females. The mean age for SCA and C group was 6.2 years old (1-13). Drugs in use, number of patients who were taking drugs, and their percentages in SCA group (n = 20) is described as follows: Folic acid (20-100%); hydroxyurea (2-10%); penicillin (7-35%); amoxicillin (1-5%); paracetamol (1-5%); dipyrone (1-5%); valproic acid (1-5%); and fluticasone propionate (1-5%). A total of nine patients had received one or more blood transfusions. The mean levels of total hemoglobin in SCA group were 9.2 g/dL.

A total of 2,000 epithelial cells were assessed. The values for the NA, CA, and NA/CA ratio are illustrated in Table 1. The normality test of Kolmogorov-Smirnov and homogeneity of variance Levene's test revealed that data showed a normal distribution and homogeneous variances for NA and CA between groups (P > 0.05). Student's t-test revealed a significant increase in NA for SCA group (P = 0.01) [Figure 1]. There was no statistically significant difference in the mean values of the CA (Student's t-test; P = 0.24) and NA/CA (Mann Whitney U test; P = 0.13) for both groups.

There was no statistically significant difference between groups in morphological analysis of oral smears cells. According to Papanicolaou classification there was a predominance of class I smears (cells with normal morphology, absence of atypical or abnormal cells) in both groups [Figure 2a, Table 2]. Class II smears (cells with normal morphology and inflammatory changes) were also observed in a lower percentage in both groups [Figure 2b, Table 2]. There were no smears from class III (cells with the presence of dysplastic changes and some criteria of malignancy, but with minor alterations), IV (smears with cells alterations strongly suspected malignancy and number of abnormal cells), and V (smears with cells alterations consistent with the presence of malignancy) in SCA and C groups.

No nuclear aberrations such as ovoid and double-nucleus in the epithelial cells of the oral mucosa in SCA group were found.

Table 3 shows the type of predominant cell in each smear. There was a predominance of nucleated cells of the superficial layer and no statistically significant difference between groups was observed.


SCA is among the most common genetic diseases in the world, and the number affected in the U.S. may approach 100,000, even when accounting for the effect of early mortality on estimations.[12] Most individuals with SCA are healthy at birth and symptoms usually start appearing within the first 6 months of life, with anemia and vasculopathy being the hallmarks of the disease.[1]

Nuclear aberrations (enlargement, ovoid, and double- nucleus) of epithelial cells in oral mucosa have been demonstrated in patients with SCA, pernicious, and iron-deficiency anemia. However, these findings may not be pathognomonic for a specific type of anemia or for any anemia.[13]

Morphometric changes were observed in this study, with a highly significant increase in NA in SCA group. Due to the effect that folic acid has on the nucleus of epithelial cells in individuals with anemia,[14] it was expected that individuals with SCA treated on a daily basis with folic acid, show a normal nuclear size. Unfortunately, it was not possible to perform a metabolic profile to demonstrate the folic acid deficiency in both groups. Probably, in the present study the increase of the NA is not associated only with folic acid deficiency, but it is likely to be directly associated with chronic anemia.

The oral mucosa epithelium is composed mostly of keratinocytes that are arranged in the basal, spinous, granular, and superficial layers. Oral keratinocytes proliferate and differentiate along these layers until exfoliated. The keratinocytes of the spinous layer have a nuclear increase, as they pass into the granular layer to the surface layer, the nucleus naturally decreases. In epithelial atrophy, the thickness of the epithelial layers is reduced. Furthermore, keratinocytes do not exhibit a normal maturation process and are exfoliated before the decrease of the nucleus occurs. This would justify a hypothesis that the nucleus increase in keratinocytes of oral mucosal epithelium of individuals with sickle cell anemia. However, this hypothesis only could be proved if a histopathological study had been developed.

The folate deficiency occurs in all types of hemolytic anemia.[15] Moreover, deficiencies of B12 vitamin are associated with megaloblastic anemia.[15] Megaloblastic crisis in sickle cell anemia patients which results from sudden arrest of erythropoiesis by folate depletion often happens. Chronic erythroid hyperplasia imposes a drain on folate reserve and biochemical evidence of mild folate deficiency can be demonstrated with a high frequency in the subjects with SCA.[16]

Hemolytic anemia is a chronic lifelong condition, hard to manage in SCA. The criteria used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to determine anemia, differ by age as follows: For children 6 months to 5 years of age anemia is defined as a hemoglobin (Hb) level < 11 g/dL, for children 5-11 years of age Hb < 11.5 g/dL.[17] Severe anemia is defined as Hb < 7.0 g/dL.[17] The mean levels of total hemoglobin in SCA group was 9.2 g/dL, showing that they were considered anemic. Thus, in the present study we suggest that keratinocytes are undergoing an adaptive response of atrophy. The atrophy of oral mucosa epithelium may contribute to increase susceptibility to infection and possible damage caused by physical and chemical agents.

It is well established that reduction of blood supply, inadequate nutrition, and the loss of innervations are the most common causes of oral epithelium atrophy.[18] SCA patients are more susceptible to develop oral epithelium atrophy due to the pathophysiology of the disease that includes anemia and vasculopathy, resulting in microvascular obstruction by sickle cells, preventing blood flow to tissue. Oral epithelium atrophy may affect the balance between protein synthesis and degradation, giving rise to abnormalities in cell structure and keratinization pattern of the oral epithelium. Other cause of oral epithelial atrophy is the deficiency of B12 vitamins[18] that is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells.

Children with SCA require a combination of wide range therapies to control the main symptoms of the systemic condition. Besides adequate dietary intake of folic acid supplementation, the SCA therapy include: Prophylactic antibiotics (to reduce risk of infection and sepsis); up-to-date immunizations (to reduce risk of bacterial and viral infection); iron chelation therapy (to prevent blood iron overload); red blood cell transfusion (to replace blood volume lost by hemorrhage and splenic sequestration or to increase the ability of carrying oxygen in cases of anemia exacerbations); hydroxyurea and butyrate derivatives (to increase the concentration of fetal hemoglobin and to reduce painful vaso occlusive crises).[19, 20]

The effect of hydroxyurea on oral epithelium cells remains unknown until now. Only two patients in this study were using this medication and no studies have demonstrated oral collateral effects induced by hydroxyurea. Hydroxyurea (antineoplastic agent), butyric acid, and butyrate derivatives have demonstrated rapid stimulation of fetal globin expression. These drugs increase the concentration of fetal hemoglobin and decrease the proportion of HbS, leading to a reduction of the painful attacks rate in sickle-cell disease. A total of nine patients had received one or more blood transfusions in this study. The blood transfusion may be necessary to replace blood volume lost; however, periodical transfusions can cause sensitization and should be used with caution, in addition to iron overload and risk of infection.

In general, these treatments improve the overall systemic condition and quality of life of patients with SCA and this gain probably is also reflected in the oral mucosa.

Morphologically, all smears of both SCA and C groups were classified as class I of Papanicolaou system for cytology. In the original Papanicolaou classification system, class I is defined as the absence of atypical or abnormal cells.[10, 11] This result was expected because all smears were obtained from the region of clinically normal mucous membrane (posterior upper buccal mucosa).

The study suggests that individuals with sickle cell anemia, regardless of clinically visible oral lesions, show cytological changes in oral mucosal epithelium.

Further clinical and cytological studies should be performed simultaneously to investigate whether children with sickle cell anemia have an increased susceptibility to develop oral lesions due to atrophy of the epithelium cells of the oral mucosa.


In conclusion, this study revealed that sickle cell anemia was able to induce significant changes on NA of oral epithelium cells.


Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

1. da Fonseca M,Oueis HS,Casamassimo PS. Sickle cell anemia: A review for the pediatric dentistPediatr DentYear: 2007291596917566539
2. Evans WW,Pogrel MA,Regezi JA. Oral mucosal lesion associated with sickle cell diseaseOral DisYear: 1996230349171516
3. Macleod RI,Hamilton PJ,Soames JV. Quantitative exfoliative oral cytology in iron-deficiency and megaloblastic anemiaAnal Quant Cytol HistolYear: 198810176803408543
4. Alberti S,Spadella CT,Francischone TR,Assis GF,Cestari TM,Taveira LA. Exfoliative cytology of the oral mucosa in type II diabetic patients: Morphology and cytomorphometryJ Oral Pathol MedYear: 2003325384312969228
5. Ramaesh T,Mendis BR,Ratnatunga N,Thattil RO. The effect of tobacco smoking and of betel chewing with tobacco on the buccal mucosa: A cytomorphometric analysisJ Oral Pathol MedYear: 199928385810535360
6. Ogden GR,Cowpe JG,Green MW. Quantitative exfoliative cytology of normal buccal mucosa: Effect of smokingJ Oral Pathol MedYear: 1990195352187974
7. Batista AB,Hase ED,Grégio AM,Ignácio SA,França BH,Lima AA. Cytomorphometric study of normal buccal mucosa of alcoholic individualsPharmacologyonlineYear: 2007124351
8. Lima AA,Woyceichoski IE,Batista AB,Grégio AM,Ignácio SA,Machado MA,et al. Cytopathological changes in oral epithelium induced by crack cocaine smokingPharmacologyonlineYear: 200713140
9. Woyceichoski EC,de Arruda EP,Resende LG,Machado MA,Grégio AM,Azevedo LR,et al. Cytomorphometric analysis of crack cocaine effects on the oral mucosaOral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol EndodYear: 2008105745918299233
10. Fontes PC,Corrêa GH,Issa JS,Brandão AA,Almeida JD. Comparison of exfoliative pap stain and AgNOR counts of the tongue in smokers and nonsmokersHead Neck PatholYear: 200821576220614310
11. Almeida JD,Cabral LAG,Brandão AAG. Exfoliative cytology as a diagnostic method in StomatologyJ Dent ResYear: 199473765
12. Hassell KL. Population estimates of sickle cell disease in the U.S.Am J Prev MedYear: 201038S5122120331952
13. Hays GL. Nuclear characteristics of buccal mucosa cells in sickle-cell anemiaOral Surg Oral Med Oral PatholYear: 19774355461265483
14. Staats OJ,Robinson LH,Butterworth CE Jr. The effect of systemic therapy on nuclear size of oral epithelial cells in folate related anemiasActa CytolYear: 1969138485255146
15. Tolentino K,Friedman JF. An update on anemia in less developed countriesAm J Trop Med HygYear: 200777445117620629
16. Nkrumah FK,Neequaye JE,Ankra-Badu G. Bone marrow in sickle cell anemia at time of anaemic crisisArch Dis ChildYear: 19845956156742877
17. World Health OrganizationMethods of assessing iron statusWorld Health Organization. Iron Deficiency Anemia: Assessment, Prevention and Control. A guide for programme managersYear: 20011st edGenevaWorld Health Organization3345
18. Kumar V,Abbas AK,Fausto N,Mitchell R. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic basis of diseaseYear: 2009New YorkElsevier Health Sciences Division
19. Steinberg MH. Management of sickle cell diseaseN Engl J MedYear: 199934010213010099145
20. Wethers DL. Sickle cell disease in childhood: Part I. Laboratory diagnosis, pathophysiology and health maintenanceAm Fam PhysicianYear: 20006210278


[Figure ID: F1]
Figure 1 

Epithelial cells exhibiting nuclear enlargement in oral smear of sickle cell anemia (Pap, ×400)

[Figure ID: F2]
Figure 2 

Oral smear of sickle cell anemia individuals classified as Class 1 (a) and Class 2 (b) (Pap, ×400)

[TableWrap ID: T1] Table 1 

Mean and standard deviation of NA, CA, NA/CA in SCA and C groups

[TableWrap ID: T2] Table 2 

Morphologic characterization of oral smears according to Papanicolaou's system classification in SCA and C groups

[TableWrap ID: T3] Table 3 

Predominant cells in smears of SCA and C groups

Article Categories:
  • Original Article

Keywords: Anemia, cytology, mouth, oral mucosa, sickle cell.

Previous Document:  Frequency and patterns of abnormal Pap smears in Sudanese women with infertility: What are the persp...
Next Document:  Cytomorphometric analysis of the gingival epithelium in type 2 diabetic patients with and without sm...