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J Neurobiol. 2005 Sep 5;64(3):310-20.

Chorda tympani nerve transection at different developmental ages produces differential effects on taste bud volume and papillae morphology in the rat.

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


Chorda tympani nerve transection (CTX) results in morphological changes to fungiform papillae and associated taste buds. When transection occurs during neonatal development in the rat, the effects on fungiform taste bud and papillae structure are markedly more severe than observed following a comparable surgery in the adult rat. The present study examined the potential "sensitive period" for morphological modifications to tongue epithelium following CTX. Rats received unilateral transection at 65, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, or 5 days of age. With each descending age at the time of transection, the effects on the structural integrity of fungiform papillae were more severe. Significant losses in total number of taste buds and filiform-like papillae were observed when transection occurred 5-30 days of age. Significant reduction in the number of taste pores was indicated at every age of transection. Another group of rats received chorda tympani transection at 10, 25, or 65 days of age to determine if the time course of taste bud degeneration differed depending on the age of the rat at the time of transection. Taste bud volumes differed significantly from intact sides of the tongue at 2, 8, and 50 days post-transection after CTX at 65 days of age. Volume measurements did not differ 2 days post-transection after CTX at 10 or 25 days of age, but were significantly reduced at the other time points. Findings demonstrate a transitional period throughout development wherein fungiform papillae are highly dependent upon the chorda tympani for maintenance of morphological integrity.

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