Background: The purpose of the present study was to elucidate whether myoepithelial cells proliferate mitotically during regeneration of rat submandibular glands after atrophy.
Methods: The excretory duct of the right submandibular gland of rats was doubly ligated near the hilum with metal clips, which were removed after 7 days of ligation (day 0). The regenerating right submandibular glands were removed from 0 to 14 days after removal of the clips. The removed tissue was examined with immunohistochemical double staining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) as a marker of proliferating cells and actin as a marker of myoepithelial cells, as well as with transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Results: The PCNA-positive myoepithelial cells were observed at the periphery of transitional duct-acinar structures, ducts and acini in the regenerating glands at every time-point, and the PCNA-labeling index of myoepithelial cells increased greatly especially between day 2 and 4. The mitosis of myoepithelial cell was also identified by TEM at day 4.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that myoepithelial cells are able to proliferate mitotically during regeneration of rat submandibular gland.