The Histochemical Journal

, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 548–553 | Cite as

Expression of argyrophilic nucleolar organizer regions (AgNORs) can be used to assess cellular proliferation as shown in rat thymic sections

  • E. Carbajo-Perez
  • V. Alberca
  • V. Vicente-Villardon
  • T. Flores
  • S. Carbajo


Silver-stained nucleolar organizer regions (AgNORs) were studied in thymic sections from 4- and 30-day-old rats. By direct examination under the light microscope cells with a low or high content of AgNORs (type I and type II cells, respectively) were identified and their relative numbers calculated. The mean area of AgNORs per cell was calculated for each type of cell and age group. Additionally, the proportion of cells labelled with bromodeoxyuridine was calculated in sections from the same animals. Visual identification of type I and type II cells was confirmed by a significant (p < 0.01) difference in the mean AgNOR area in both types of cell. Both the proportion of cells with a high expression of AgNORs (type II cells) and that of bromodeoxyuridine-labelled cells were significantly greater (p < 0.01) in 4-day-old rats than in 30-day-old rats. A significant correlation was found between both variables (R2 = 0.45;p = 0.002), the relation being best between both variables and age (R2 = 0.91;p = < 0.001). These data offer support for an easy interpretation of the AgNOR reaction in which the proportion of cells with a high expression of AgNORs can be used as an index of proliferative activity in a tissue sample.


Tissue Sample High Expression Light Microscope Cellular Proliferation Proliferative Activity 
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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Carbajo-Perez
    • 1
  • V. Alberca
    • 2
  • V. Vicente-Villardon
    • 3
  • T. Flores
    • 4
  • S. Carbajo
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Morphology and Cell Biology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  2. 2.Department of Human Anatomy and HistologyUniversidad de SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  3. 3.Unit of BiostatisticsUniversidad de SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  4. 4.Unit of PathologyHospital ClínicoSalamancaSpain

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