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J Anat. 1983 Jun;136(Pt 4):821-7.

A quantitative study of cat epiglottal taste buds during development.


To quantify the development of upper airway chemoreceptors, epiglottal taste buds were counted in cat fetuses, kittens and adults. Taste buds with structural characteristics similar to those in the adult were observed in all fetuses close to term and in kittens from birth. During the first postnatal week a mean of 76 taste buds was present on the kitten epiglottis and by adulthood 800 were observed. The number of taste buds increased as a logarithmic function of both age and weight, but the correlation with weight is better than that with age. The presence of epiglottal taste buds from very early developmental stages suggests that these receptors may mediate the reflex apnoea and swallowing that occur in response to chemical stimulation of the larynx in newborns.

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