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Objectives: The aims of the present study were firstly, to evaluate the effect of estrogen on the cytology of buccal mucosa during the menstrual cycle and at menopause, and, secondly, to analyze the presence of estrogen receptors in the epithelial cells of buccal mucosa using immunohistochemical methods. Methods: The cytological samples of buccal mucosa from 10 healthy young women (mean age 24 years) were taken on every day of the menstrual cycle and stained according to Papanicolaou. A single cytological sample of buccal mucosa was also collected from 20 healthy postmenopausal women (mean age 66 years) using no hormone replacement therapy. For each specimen, a maturation index was calculated on the basis of percentages of the three (parabasal, intermediate and superficial) cell types. Moreover, 50 incisional biopsies were taken from buccal mucosa of 50 young healthy women (19 years old) for analysis of estrogen receptor expression by immunohistochemistry using an indirect immunoperoxidase technique. Results: On cytohormonal evaluation, intermediate cells were dominant in postmenopausal women and also in young women at all stages of the menstrual cycle indicating a nearly complete cell maturation. Estrogen receptor positive cells were not detected in buccal epithelium by immunohistochemistry. Conclusions: As the cell pattern of buccal mucosa indicated a nearly complete cell maturation both in young and in postmenopausal women, estrogen may not be the only factor causing maturational changes in buccal epithelial cells. Alternatively, the antibody used in immunohistochemistry may not detect the epitope of the estrogen receptor present in buccal mucosa or the level of expression of this protein may be under the detection limit.
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Accepted: January 23, 1997
Received in revised form: January 16, 1997
Received: December 2, 1996
© 1997 Published by Elsevier Inc.