Juxtaoral Organ: Present Knowledge on the Development and Morphology of an Organ of Unknown Function

  • Robert Mayr


In the human embryo, a solid epithelial cell bud developing earlier than the anlage of the parotid gland from the ectoderm of the primitive oral cavity (Chievitz 1885) was considered to be a rudimentary, prenatally degenerating anlage of a salivary gland by earlier embryologists (Weishaupt, 1911). This anlage was then known as the “organ of Chievitz” by embryologists (Strandberg, 1918). No correlate of this early fetal organ was found in the older fetus, at birth, or in postnatal life, neither in man nor in any animal, for half a century. Ramsay (1953) was the first to encounter the epithelial cell strand in newborns, and presented an excellent study of its development. He saw no justification to consider the cell strand as a gland, neither an exo- nor an endocrine one. Instead he suggested it to be an epithelial remnant, resulting from the fusion of the maxillary and mandibular processes in a similar way and without any further function than the epithelial remnants in the raphe of the palate or in the cervical vesicles. In 1946 Massart described the persistence of the organ of Chievitz in adult chiropterans, in a local Italian journal. Soon thereafter, Wolfgang Zenker, then a medical student and “Demonstrator” at the Department of Anatomy of Vienna doing his first steps in scientific research, found the correlate of the fetal epithelial cell bud known as the organ of Chievitz to persist postnatally and to occur regularly in adult man as the central parenchymal element of a rather small, but complex paired organ in the depth of the cheek.


  1. Zenker, W., 1982, “Juxtaoral Organ (Chievitz’ Organ), Morphology & Clinical Aspects”, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Baltimore — Munich.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Mayr
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Anatomie 2Universität WienWienAustria

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