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Morphological evidence that pentagastrin regulates secretion in the human parotid gland.


Salivary secretion is principally regulated by autonomic nerves. However, recent evidence from in vivo animal experiments suggests that gastrointestinal peptide hormones can also influence saliva production. The aim of the present study was to define the secretagogue activity of the gastrin-analogue pentagastrin in human salivary glands. For this purpose, parotid tissues were exposed to pentagastrin in vitro. Morphological techniques were used to evaluate modifications to serous acinar cells associated with secretion. Using a variant of the osmium maceration method, high resolution scanning electron microscopy allowed assessment of the morphology of the cytoplasmic aspect of the plasmalemma to demonstrate secretory activity. To quantify responses to pentagastrin, we recorded morphometric data on microvilli, microbuds, and protrusions. Dose-dependent morphological changes were observed, whereas protein concentration increased in the incubate. The use of selective receptor antagonists showed pentagastrin to act principally via cholecystokinin-A receptors. The morphological responses observed following exposure to pentagastrin differed from those elicited following exposure to the pan-muscarinic agonist carbachol. This study provides the first demonstration of a direct secretory action of gastrointestinal peptides on salivary glands in humans.


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    Department of Cytomorphology, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy.

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    Journal of anatomy 220:5 2012 May pg 447-53


    Acinar Cells
    Gastrointestinal Agents
    Hormone Antagonists
    Microscopy, Electron
    Parotid Gland

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID