, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 351–365 | Cite as

Histochemical studies on the mucins of the vertebrate tongues

I. Histochemical analysis of mucosubstances in the amphibian tongue
  • M. N. Nalavade
  • A. T. Varute


With a view to augment the understanding of the tongue mucosubstances and their significance in the physiology of taste, tongues of two amphibians were investigated histochemically to determine the distribution and nature of the mucosubstances by employing recent techniques, and the results were considered comparatively with the tongue mucins of other vertebrates and the animal mucosubstances in general. A heterogenous distribution of neutral mucins, sulfomucins and sialomucins in fungiform and filiform papillae, ventral epithelium, lingual glands and connectives tissue could be significantly noted on the basis of which various cell types having specialised mucosubstances were identified in the papillae and the ventral epithelium.

The tongue mucosubstances, especially sulfomucins and sialomucins, exhibited inharent heterogenity. Sulfomucins at some sites were hyaluronidas-labile and at other hyaluronidaseresistant, their azurophilia especially at low pH was also different, some being azurophilic and others nonazurophilic. Sialomucins also exhibited such heterogenity, at some sites they were labile to acid hydrolysis and mild methylation but in others they were resistant to the latter, though sialomucins at both sites were sialidase-labile. The mucosubstances localised in the serous glands were highly typical, since they exhibited extraordinary histochemical reactions, they possessed intensely PAS positive reactivity resistant to diastase, hyaluronidase and sialidase, negative to alcian blue both at pH 1 and 2.5, and exhibited no metachromasia at both low and high pH levels, but showed alcianophilia only at high pH levels. Such high pH alcianophilia was sialidase and hyaluronidase resistant but labile to mild methylation. These mucosubstances bear some similarity to those of mammalian parotid.

Such heterogenity was reflected at species-specific level, since some interesting speciesspecific differences were observed in mucosubstances of histologically identical cells and tissues of tongues of the two species of amphibians which might assist in the elucidation of phylogenetic importance of mucins.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aureli, G., Ferri, G., Castellani, A. A.: Content of sialic acid in serous glands of equines. Nature (Lond.) 190, 914 (1961).Google Scholar
  2. Bignardi, C., Aureli, G., Balduini, C., Castellani, A. A.: Sulfosialopoly-saccharide-peptide from dog submaxillary gland. Biochem. biophys. Res. Commun. 17, 310–312 (1964).Google Scholar
  3. Burstone, M. S.: A cytological study of salivary glands of the mouse tongue. J. dent. Res. 32, 126–132 (1953).Google Scholar
  4. Carvalho, A., Dulce, V. D., Jose, C. N.: Some morphological aspects and a histochemical study of polysaccharide in the posterior lingual salivary glands of mammalia. I. Rodentia (Rattus novegicus albinus, Mus musculus, Cavia porcellus and Crisetus auratus). Arq. cent. Estud. Fac. Odontal. Univ. Feder. Minas Gera. is Bels. Horizonte 4, 95–112 (1967).Google Scholar
  5. Dempsey, E. W., Bunting, H., Singer, W., Wislocki, G. B.: The dye-binding capacity and other chemo-histological properties of mammalian mucopolysacchardides. Anat. Rec. 98, 417–429 (1947).Google Scholar
  6. Fahrmann, W.: Light and electron microscopic investigation on the taste buds of the neotene axolotle (Siredon mexicanum) (Shaw). Z. mikr.-anat. Forsch. 77, 117–122 (1967).Google Scholar
  7. —, Schuchardt, E.: Light and electron microscopic investigation on the taste buds in the tongue of the axolotle. Experientia (Basel) 23, 657–659 (1967).Google Scholar
  8. Fisher, E. R., Lillie, R. D.: The effect of methylation on basophilia. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 2, 81–87 (1954).Google Scholar
  9. Francis Eric, T. B.: The sources and nature of salivary secretions in amphibia. Proc. Zool. Soc. (London). 136, 456–476 (1961).Google Scholar
  10. French, J. E., Benditt, E. P.: The histochemistry of connective tissue. II. The effects of proteins on the selective staining of mucopolysaccharide by basic dyes. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 1, 321–325 (1953).Google Scholar
  11. Fuji, S., Tamura, T.: Histochemical studies on the mucin of the chicken salivary glands. Hiroshima Univ. Fac. Fish. Anim. Husb. J. 6, 345–355 (1966).Google Scholar
  12. Gerard, A., de Graff, J., Lev, R., Glass, G. B.: Secretion of chondroitin sulfate-like substances by the chief cells of the dog gastric mucosa. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 15, 773–774 (1967).Google Scholar
  13. Gottschalk, A.: In: The chemistry and biology of sialic acids and related compounds. London: Cambridge University Press 1960.Google Scholar
  14. Hammerman, D. L.: The frog tongue. II. Histogenesis of fungiform papillae in Rana catesbiana. Acta zool. (Stockh.) 50, 25–33 (1969).Google Scholar
  15. Kelly, J. W.: Suppression of metachromasia by basic proteins. Arch. Biochem. 55, 130–137 (1955).Google Scholar
  16. Lehtonen, A., Karkkainen, J., Haahti, E.: Carbohydrate components in the epithelial mucins of the common Atlantic hagfish, Myxine glutinosa. Acta chem. scand. 20, 1456–1462 (1966).Google Scholar
  17. Leppi, T. J.: Morphochemical analysis of mucous cells in the skin and slime glands of hagfish. Histochemie 15, 68–78 (1968).Google Scholar
  18. —, Kinnison, P. A.: Histochemical evaluation of acidic carbohydrates in pig colonic mucosa. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 15, 774 (1967).Google Scholar
  19. —, Spicer, S. S.: The histochemistry of mucins in certain primate salivary glands. Amer. J. Anat. 118, 833–860 (1966).Google Scholar
  20. —: The histochemistry of carbohydrate-rich substances in certain ungulate salivary glands. Anat. Rec. 159, 179–191 (1967).Google Scholar
  21. —, Henson, J. G., Fioravanti, J.: Correlated histochemical staining and S35 labelling of salivary gland mucosubstances. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 15, 745–751 (1967).Google Scholar
  22. Lev, R., Spicer, S. S.: Specific staining of sulphate groups with alcian blue at low pH. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 12, 309 (1964).Google Scholar
  23. McManus, J. F. A.: Histological demonstration of mucin after periodic acid. Nature (Lond.) 15, 202 (1946).Google Scholar
  24. Mowry, R. W.: Alcian blue technics for the histochemical study of acidic carbohydrates. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 4, 407 (1956).Google Scholar
  25. —: The special value of methods that color with both acidic and vicinal hydroxyl groups in the histochemical study of mucins. With revised directions for the colloidal iron stain, the use of alcian blue 8 GX and their combinations with the periodic acid Schiff reaction. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 106, 402–423 (1963).Google Scholar
  26. —, Winkler, C. H.: The coloration of acidic carbohydrates of bacteria and fungi in tissue sections with special reference to capsules of Cryptococcus neoformans, Pneumococcus and Staphylococcus. Amer. J. Path. 32, 628–629 (1956).Google Scholar
  27. Neuberger, A., Marshall, R. D., Gottschalk, A.: Some aspects of the chemistry of the component sugars of glycoproteins. In: Glycoproteins, vol. 5, p. 158–189, ed. by Gottschalk, A. New York: Elsevier Publishing Company 1966.Google Scholar
  28. Quintarelli, G.: Masking action of basic proteins on sialic acid carboxyls in epithelial mucins. Experientia (Basel) 19, 1–3 (1963).Google Scholar
  29. —, Dellovo, M. C.: Studies on the exocrine secretions. Histochemical investigation on the major salivary glands of exotic animals. Histochemie 19, 199–223 (1969).Google Scholar
  30. Schrager, J.: Mucopolysaccharide of the gastric secretion. Nature (Lond.) 201, 1220–1222 (1964).Google Scholar
  31. Scott, J. E., Dorling, J.: Differential staining of acid glycosaminoglycans (mucopolysaccharides) by alcian blue in salt solutions. Histochemie 5, 221–223 (1965).Google Scholar
  32. —, Quintarelli, G.: Differential staining of acid glycosaminoglycans by alcian blue in salt solutions. Biochem. J. 90, 4p-5p (1964).Google Scholar
  33. Shin, T. S., Soo, Y. P.: A histological and histochemical study of the glands of Von Ebner in the human tongue: additional report on the staining properties of the mucous cells. Yonsei med. J. 2, 6–9 (1961).Google Scholar
  34. Spicer, S. S.: A correlative study of the histochemical properties of rodent acid mucopolysaccharides. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 8, 18–35 (1960).Google Scholar
  35. —, Hensen, J. G.: Methods for localizing mucosubstances in epithelial and connective tissues. Meth. Achiev. exp. Path. 2, 78–112 (1967).Google Scholar
  36. - Horn, R. G., Leppi, T. J.: Histochemistry of connective tissue mucopolysaccharides. In: The connective tissue. Int. Acad. Path. Monograph No. 7, p. 251–303 (1967).Google Scholar
  37. —, Jarrels, M. H.: Histochemical reaction of an aromatic diamine with acid groups and periodate engendered aldehydes in mucopolysaccharides. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 9, 368–379 (1961).Google Scholar
  38. Spicer, S. S., Lillie, R. D.: Saponification as a means of selective reversing the methylation blockade of tissue basophilia.J. Histochem. Cytochem. 7, 123–125 (1959).Google Scholar
  39. —, Meyer, D. B.: Histochemical differentiation of acid mucopolysaccharides by means of combined aldehyde fuchsin-alcian blue staining. Amer. J. clin. Path. 33, 453–460 (1960).Google Scholar
  40. —, Stoward, P. J.: Suggestions for a histochemical terminology of carbohydrate-rich tissue components. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 13, 599–603 (1965).Google Scholar
  41. Varute, A. T., Jirge, S. K.: Histochemical analysis of mucosubstances in oral mucosa of mouth breeding Cichlid fish and seasonal variations in them. Histochemie 25, 91–102 (1971).Google Scholar
  42. —, Patil, V. A.: Histochemical analysis of molluscan stomach and intestinal alkaline phosphatase: A sialoglycoprotein. Histochemie 25, 77–90 (1971).Google Scholar
  43. Wislocki, G. B., Bunting, H., Dempsey, E. W.: Metachromasia in mammalian tissues and its relationship to mucopolysaccharides. Amer. J. Anat. 81, 1–37 (1947).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. N. Nalavade
    • 1
  • A. T. Varute
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Cell-Biology SectionShivaji UniversityVidyanagar, Kolhapur-4, (Maharashtra)India

Personalised recommendations