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J Dent Res. 1989 Dec;68(12):1739-45.

The effect of chronic atropine treatment on salivary composition and caries in rats.

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  • 1Department of Dental Research, University of Rochester, New York 14642.


Many instances of salivary dysfunction in humans can be traced to the use of medications that have hyposalivary side-effects. In this study, atropine, a cholinergic antagonist, was administered chronically to rats by use of osmotic mini-pumps. Steady-state blood levels, similar to levels obtained in human multiple oral dosing, were thus maintained. Atropine delivered in this manner for 24 days was found to decrease protein concentration of parotid saliva (p less than 0.05) elicited by pilocarpine, and to increase smooth-surface caries scores (p less than 0.05) in rats fed a cariogenic diet. Parotid saliva collected via ductal cannulation from rats subjected to chronic atropine administration (and stimulated to secrete by pilocarpine) exhibited increased levels of two basic proline-rich proteins (Peak A and SP-3), as evaluated by SDS-PAGE, compared with those observed in saliva from controls. Cannulation of sublingual glands in animals receiving high doses of atropine produced no measurable secretion upon pilocarpine stimulation. Carbachol stimulation of dispersed cell aggregates of sublingual glands from sham-operated and high-dose atropine groups indicated that the glands responded similarly once the antagonist was washed from the system, implying that the lack of secretion in vivo was caused by antagonism of the cholinergic receptor by atropine. Our observations suggest that this model system can be exploited for determination of the effects of chronic administration of hyposalivary drugs on salivary composition and caries rates.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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