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Acta Odontol Latinoam. 2000;13(2):87-99.

Avian minor salivary glands: an ultrastructural study of the secretory granules in mucous and seromucous cells.

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Department of Buccal Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, National University of Córdoba, Argentina.


Ultrastructural descriptions in birds are scarce thus, in this study we have characterized the secretory granules of mucous and seromucous cells from the palatine and lingual salivary glands of birds with different diets. The samples were taken from the tongue and palatine mucosa of chicken (Gallus gallus), quail (Coturnix coturnix), chimango (Milvago chimango) and white heron (Egretta thula). The samples were processed for observation by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) employing 4% Karnovsky solution for fixation. The most noteworthy finding was the heterogeneous ultrastructural appearance of the secretory granules. Differences in substructure were found between the four species, between the palatine and lingual glands in the same species and even within the same acinus and the same cell. At variance with other authors, these differences cannot be attributed to the type of fixative solution used taking into account that all the samples were processed in the same way. Previous histochemical studies have shown the presence of sulfated and non sulfated glycoconjugates in these glands which can be associated to the maturation of the granules. These granules are probably representative of peculiar storage of the secretory products that would give rise to a heterogeneous and complex ultrastructural pattern of granules in the mucosa and seromucosa cells of these avian species.

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