Long‐term effects of gustatory neurectomy on fungiform papillae in the young rat

Judith R. Ganchrow, Donald Ganchrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent evidence from mature hamster fungiform papillae indicates that following denervation taste buds are present from 21 to 330 days in the absence of discernible intragemmal nerve fibers. In contrast, most prior taste bud degeneration studies focused on shorter survival times. The present inquiry in young rats examined the issue of postneurectomy buds, in which regeneration of the resected chorda tympani or facial nerves was prevented and anterior tongue tissue examined over a range of relatively long survival times (30–90 days). Conditions for observing potential taste buds used three histologic stains and a definition of the taste bud not necessarily requiring pore identification. In each case, serial section examination of the anterior‐most 2–3 mm of lingual epithelium revealed 29–56 bud‐containing fungiform papillae on the unoperated side. In contrast, ipsilateral to the neurectomy, only zero‐7 medially‐placed, mature‐looking buds were observed per case, as well as zero‐3 more laterally situated fungiform papillae containing small clusters of cells in basal epithelium that lacked the vertical organization and cytoplasmic staining intensity of mature taste buds. These cell aggregates were distributed evenly across survival time and stain used. Therefore, in young rats following gustatory neurectomy, longer survival times, per se, would not appear to be a prerequisite for sustaining fungiform taste buds. The appearance of “midline” buds postsurgery may be attributed to either normal contralateral or a net bilateral innervation, and/or ipsilateral denervation and bud loss inducing neural sprouting from the contralateral side.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-231
Number of pages8
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1989


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