• Developmental biology;
  • Sexual differentiation;
  • Anatomy;
  • Histology


Sexual dimorphism has been observed in salivary glands of many species. In this study, evidence for sexual differences in adult mouse submandibular gland is extended beyond parenchymal cell composition, size, and volumes to include patterns of DNA synthesis and complexity of ductal branching. Computer-assisted three-dimensional reconstructions also revealed differences in overall organization of secretory complexes. Consistent with observations by others, granular intercalated duct cells were absent, while striated granular duct cells were low in proportion in the male glands relative to female glands. When the mean of average cell volumes were compared, acinar (AC) cells were smaller than granular duct (GD) cells in the male, but in the female the reverse was true. Furthermore, in addition to differences in average volumes of GD cells, the average volume of AC cells was significantly greater in females than males. The most dramatic evidence for sexual dimorphism was observed following a 90-min labeling with 3H-thymidine. Though all cell types showed DNA replication activity, the intercalated duct (ID) cells were substantially more active than AC and GD cells in the female, while in the maléeA the GD cells, ID cells, and AC cells all showed approximately equal activity. Three-dimensional reconstructions indicated that the female possessed a more highly branched intercalated duct system and that the GD usually terminated within a secretory complex, whereas in males the GD typically passes through a secretory complex and forms a prominent cap-like structure on the opposite side. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.