Scanning Microscopy


The effects of smokeless tobacco (snuff) on hamster cheek mucosa were studied by light microscopy, transmission (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Two grams of commercially available smokeless tobacco were placed into the blind end of the right cheek pouch of each experimental animal, once a day and five days a week for 24 months. The control animals did not receive smokeless tobacco. After 24 months treatment with smokeless tobacco, hamster cheek mucosal epithelium lost its translucency and had become whitish in color. By light microscopy hyperorthokeratosis, prominent granular cell layers with increased keratohyalin granules and hyperplasia were seen. At the ultrastructural level, wider intercellular spaces filled with microvilli, numerous shorter desmosomes, many thin tonofilament bundles, increased number of mitochondria, membrane coating granules and keratohyalin granules were seen in snuff-treated epithelium. The changes in the surface of the epithelium as seen by SEM were the development of an irregular arrangement of the microridges and the disappearance of the normal honeycomb pattern. The microridges were irregular, widened and surrounded the irregular elongated pits. Some smooth areas without microridges and pits were also seen.

The long-term histological, TEM and SEM changes induced by smokeless tobacco treatment of the epithelium are well correlated with each other and were similar to those reported in human leukoplakia without dyskeratosis. They imply changes of pathological response resulting from topically applied snuff.

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