• developmental change;
  • distribution of intralobular blood vessel;
  • fine structure of intralobular blood vessel;
  • submandibular gland;
  • mouse


Previous studies have shown that the blood vessels supplying the endocrine organs and the mucosa of the intestinal canals change in terms of not only their distribution but also their structure with the development and growth of each organ. We examined changes in the distribution and structure of intralobular blood vessels, including capillaries, throughout the postnatal development of the submandibular gland, an exocrine organ. The mouse submandibular gland from days 0 (birth) to 49 was investigated chronologically and ultrastructurally. The capillaries changed from continuous to fenestrated on day 10, coincident with an increase in the number of acini to more than the number of terminal tubules. The number of sections of intralobular blood vessels per unit area gradually decreased with increasing acinar size and was lowest on day 21 when pups were weaned; the same number was maintained from then on. In contrast with the reduction in the number of intralobular blood vessels, the number of capillary pores appeared to increase gradually. Acinar size increased further till day 28. Capillary pore number also increased further, till day 35, apparently in relation to the increasing acinar size. These findings suggest that the changes in distribution and structure of the intralobular blood vessels in the submandibular gland of the postnatally developing mouse are closely related to the development of the parenchymal cells in preparation for weaning and sexual maturity. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.