Cell-to-Cell Communication in Salivary Glands

  • Robert Weingart


Twenty-five years have passed since Burgen and Emmelin’s (1961) monograph, Physiology of the Salivary Glands, was published. At that time, it was not yet recognized that this tissue has a syncytial structure. Nineteen years later, Petersen’s (1980) new monograph, The Electrophysiology of Gland Cells, devoted an entire chapter to “Intercellular Communication.” Obviously, exciting discoveries were made in the interim concerning the nature and importance of connections between glandular cells. In the beginning, a report by Loewenstein and Kanno (1964) demonstrated that the cells of insect salivary glands are electrically coupled. Since then, salivary glands from Drosophila or Chironomus larvae have been an experimental model for exploring problems related to various aspects of intercellular communication. The advantages of studying insect salivary glands include the large cell size (diameter ~ 80–150 μm), and the arrangement of cells in a linear array. Salivary glands from animal species other than insects also have been shown to exhibit cell-to-cell coupling. However, such preparations seldom have been used presumably because of experimental difficulties arising from the small cell size (diameter ~ 15 μm), and the complex three-dimensional structure. The resulting work on salivary glands, mainly carried out by Loewenstein’s group, not only has contributed to the current understanding of cell-to-cell coupling, but also has initiated similar investigations performed with other multicellular tissues.


Salivary Gland Coupling Coefficient Intercellular Communication Cell Pair Salivary Gland Cell 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Weingart
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of BerneBerneSwitzerland

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