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J Neurobiol. 2002 Jun 5;51(3):223-36.

Time course of morphological alterations of fungiform papillae and taste buds following chorda tympani transection in neonatal rats.

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418 Allwine Hall, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska 68182, USA.


The time course of structural changes in fungiform papillae was analyzed in rats that received unilateral chorda tympani nerve transection at 10 days of age. Morphological differences between intact and denervated sides of the tongue were first observed at 8 days postsection, with an increase in the number of fungiform papillae that did not have a pore. In addition, the first papilla with a filiform-like appearance was noted on the denervated side at 8 days postsectioning. By 11 days after surgery, the total number of papillae and the number of papillae with a pore were significantly lower on the transected side of the tongue as compared to the intact side. At 50 days postsection, there was an average of 70.5 fungiform papillae on the intact side and a mean of only 20.8 fungiform papillae the denervated side. Of those few remaining papillae on the cut side, an average of 13.5 papillae were categorized as filiform-like, while no filiform-like papillae occurred on the intact side. Significant reduction in taste bud volume was noted at 4 days posttransection and further decrements in taste bud volume were noted at 8 and 30 days postsection. Electron microscopy of the lingual branch of the trigeminal nerve from adult rats that received neonatal chorda tympani transection showed normal numbers of both myelinated and unmyelinated fibers. Thus, in addition to the well-characterized dependence of taste bud maintenance on the chorda tympani nerve, the present study shows an additional role of the chorda tympani nerve in papilla maintenance during early postnatal development.

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