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Arch Oral Biol. 1999 Nov;44(11):953-60.

Effect of 24 hours light on circadian rhythms of secretory enzymes and morphology of rat von Ebner's glands.

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Oral Pathology Research Laboratory, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington, DC 20422, USA.


Von Ebner's glands of the rat are minor salivary serous glands in the posterior portion of the tongue. They secrete two digestive enzymes, lingual lipase and amylase. In this investigation, circadian rhythm in feeding was established under a normal 12 h light/12 h dark cycle, with the rats eating primarily during the dark period. At lights on, the size of the acinar cells and the area of the inclusive secretory granules, and the amount of digestive enzyme activity (lingual lipase and amylase) remaining in the gland was significantly less than in the mid-afternoon, after very little daylight food consumption. However, after 7 days of continuous light the circadian rhythm was altered: the food consumption during the normal night-time hours (5 p.m. to 8 a.m.) went from 88% of total 24 h food consumption to 45%, and during normal daylight hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) from 12% to 55%. These changes were correlated with histometric findings of a near reversal of the areas of acinar cells and secretory granules of a.m. and p.m. samples under continuous light. Lingual lipase activity in the glands went from 35% under 12 h light to 61% under continuous light in the a.m. and from 65% to 39% in the p.m. Amylase activity also showed nearly a reversal in activity remaining in the gland, from 36% at 12 h light to 58% at 24 h light in the a.m. and 64% to 41% for the p.m. samples. These results indicate that the von Ebner's glands of the rat have a circadian rhythm of secretion and storage of secretory proteins that is subject to light entrainment similar to that seen in other exocrine glands such as the parotid and pancreas.

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