Scanning Microscopy


Obstruction of salivary glands occurs in association with a number of pathological conditions. It has been suggested that the major changes found in the salivary glands of patients with cystic fibrosis are due to obstruction of the excretory duct by viscous mucus. In the present study, the effect of excretory duct obstruction on structure, elemental composition and function of rat submandibular gland was investigated. Obstruction was effected by infusion of a fast-hardening protein emulsion in the main excretory duct. After 1 week, and more pronounced after 2 weeks of obstruction the number of granular duct cells had decreased in the obstructed gland. X-ray microanalysis showed an increase in Mg, Ca and K, and a decrease in Na levels in the acinar cells, compared to normal glands. The contralateral glands apparently underwent compensatory hypertrophy and showed a similar pattern of changes in elemental composition. The composition of pilocarpine-induced submandibular saliva was neither in the obstructed nor in the contralateral gland significantly different from that in control glands. However, the flow rate was somewhat lower. Hence, increase in cellular Ca levels in submandibular gland acinar cells in cystic fibrosis could be secondary to duct obstruction, but the present study does not support the hypothesis that duct obstruction would result in changes in the composition of saliva.

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