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Abstract

During eruption of the mouse incisor part of the periodontal ligament moves along with the tooth in occlusal direction and is degraded in the gingiva, just apically of the junctional epithelium. When studied with the electron microscope some connective tissue cells (fibroblasts) showed disorganization of both nucleus and cytoplasm. In other cells vacuoles were observed containing partly degraded cellular constituents. Sometimes within these vacuoles electron dense material with the appearance of clumped chromatin was observed. On the basis of this observation it is concluded that heterophagocytosis contributes to the process of fibroblast breakdown. The ultrastructure of these heterophagic cells resembled that of fibroblasts.

Collagenous fibrils were observed within cytoplasmic vacuoles of fibroblasts indicating that collagen is phagocytosed and probably digested in the lysosomal apparatus. Part of the intercellularspace was filled with a homogeneous material of moderate electron density, intermingled with some collagenous fibrils.

Within some cells of the junctional epithelium partly degraded material was observed which may indicate that the epithelium contributes to the removal of residual products of connective tissue degradation.