• Keywords: breast carcinoma;
  • nucleolar organizer region;
  • DNA;
  • RNA;
  • nucleolus

Nucleolar organizer regions (NORs) have been identified by means of an argyrophilic technique (Ag-NOR) in routinely processed, formalin-fixed paraffin sections of breast lesions. This method, which is novel in histopathology, reveals NORs as black dots in the nuclei of cells, by virtue of the argyrophilia of NOR-associated proteins. The number of Ag-NORs has been thought to be related to cellular activation and has recently been applied to non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and melanocytic skin lesions. It was found in the present study that the total number of Ag-NORs in malignant breast lesions significantly exceeded those of normal breast and benign lesions. The number of clumps of Ag-NORs, however, were not useful discriminators. Neither numbers of total Ag-NORs nor of clumps of Ag-NORs correlate with mitotic counts and it may be that their numbers relate to ploidy. It is suggested that the Ag-NOR technique will find increasing application as an adjunct to diagnostic histopathology.