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Acta Otolaryngol. 1999;119(6):712-7.

Structure of the human uvula.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University Hospital of Umeå, Umeå University, Sweden.


Eleven uvular biopsies were investigated for their morphology, the presence of mast cells and the distribution of hyaluronan and its major ligand CD44. Three microanatomical sites--surface epithelium, subepithelial area and area of glands--were examined. The oral side of the uvula was covered by a 15-20 cell thick layer of keratinized/parakeratinized surface epithelium, firmly anchored to the underlying connective tissue by connective tissue papillae. The width of the intercellular spaces in the epithelium increased toward the basal lamina, a location that exhibited intense hyaluronan and anti-CD44 staining. Most mast cells were located in the vicinity of blood vessels, at which sites there was high staining intensity of hyaluronan. Tissue mast cells could also be observed in the connective tissue septa enclosing the acini. Glands and muscle fibres became more sparse from the proximal part of the uvula to the distal end, while the amount of connective tissue increased. The localization and architecture of connective tissue elements and mast cells are consistent with the ability of the uvula to resist mechanical stresses and to develop oedema and fibrosis, respectively.

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