Cytological and cytomorphometric evaluation of the oral mucosa in HIV-infected patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy
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Background: To evaluate HIV infection-induced alterations in the oral mucosa by comparing inflammation, cell maturation, and cytomorphometric changes in oral mucosal cells between HIV-infected patients undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and non-HIV-infected patients. Methods: Thirty HIV-infected patients undergoing HAART and 30 non-HIV-infected patients were studied. Four smears were obtained from the lateral border of the tongue and floor of the mouth with a cytobrush. One sample was stained by the Papanicolaou technique, and three samples were processed for Feulgen staining. Papanicolaou-stained smears were analyzed by light microscopy, and the cytoplasmic (CA) and nuclear (NA) area were measured with the Software AxioVision 4.7. Results: The Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed a significant difference in intermediate epithelial cell types between the HIV-infected and non-HIV-infected groups (P=.005). However, this difference was not observed for superficial epithelial cell types with (P=.672) and without a nucleus (P=.069). Comparative analysis revealed no significant difference in CA (P=.604), NA (P=.298) or NA/CA (P=.456) between the HIV-infected and non-HIV-infected groups. Keratohyalin granules were more frequent in the non-HIV-infected group (P=.0001). Conclusions: The results showed alterations in cell maturation in HIV-infected patients undergoing HAART with undetectable viral load, but no morphometric changes were observed.