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J Histochem Cytochem. 2001 Dec;49(12):1557-64.

Apoptosis and proliferation of myoepithelial cells in atrophic rat submandibular glands.

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Department of Oral Health Sciences, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Dental Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.


This study was designed to determine whether apoptosis and proliferation of myoepithelial cells occur in atrophic rat submandibular glands. The excretory duct of the right submandibular gland was doubly ligated with metal clips. The atrophic right submandibular glands removed after 1-28 days of duct ligation were investigated using immunohistochemical double staining for actin as a marker for myoepithelial cells and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) as a marker for proliferating cells, double staining for actin immunohistochemistry, nick end-labeling (TUNEL) as a marker for apoptotic cells, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). A few PCNA- and no TUNEL-positive myoepithelial cells were found in the control submandibular glands taken from animals with no operation. In the experimental glands, PCNA-positive myoepithelial cells were common 2 and 3 days after duct ligation and then decreased in number. TUNEL-positive myoepithelial cells appeared at 2 days and were observed most frequently at 5 days. Apoptotic myoepithelial cells were also identified by TEM. These observations suggest that both apoptosis and proliferation of myoepithelial cells occur, especially in the early phase of atrophy, in the rat submandibular gland.

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