Ultrastructural changes of posterior lingual glands after hypoglossal denervation in hamsters

S. J. Cheng, C. F. Huang, Y. C. Chen, J. J. Lee, H. H. Chang, H. M. Chen, M. L. Chiang, M. Y. Kuo, Sang Heng Kok*, Chi Yu Tseng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

9 Scopus citations


Posterior lingual glands consist of two sets of minor salivary glands that serve important functions in oral physiology. To investigate the hypothesis that the hypoglossal nerve provides sympathetic innervation to the posterior lingual glands, we examined ultrastructural changes in the glands following hypoglossal denervation. In the posterior deep lingual glands (of von Ebner), the serous acinar cells showed a decrease in the number of secretory granules and an increase in lipofuscin accumulation. The ratios of cells containing lipofuscin granules were 11.39, 36.49 and 50.46%, respectively, of the control, 3- and 7-day post-axotomy glands (P < 0.001). Intraepithelial phagocytotic activity was increased. The mucous acinar cells in the posterior superficial lingual glands (of Weber) also showed degenerative changes after hypoglossal denervation. One week after nerve transection, marked cytoplasmic vacuolation and fragmentation of organelles were frequently observed. Degenerative changes were also found in unmyelinated axons associated with the glands. We provide the first evidence of the structural and functional connections between the sympathetic component of the hypoglossal nerve and posterior lingual glands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Hamster
  • Hypoglossal nerve
  • Posterior lingual glands
  • Sympathetic
  • Von Ebner's gland
  • Weber's glands


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