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Effect of photic stimuli on rat salivary glands. Role of sympathetic nervous system.

  • Bellavía, S1
  • Gallará, R
  • 1 Biological Chemistry Departments, Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Dentistry, University of Córdoba, Argentina. [email protected]
Published Article
Acta odontologica latinoamericana : AOL
Publication Date
PMID: 11885465


Saliva secretion during feeding facilitates chewing, swallowing and other oral functions. Between meals, a "resting saliva" is elicited to allow speaking and contribute to maintain soft and hard tissues health. Chewing is the main stimulus for "stimulated saliva" secretion. Mouth dryness and other less well known stimuli control "resting saliva". In humans the stimulus of the light increases the parotid saliva flow rate. Saliva secretion occurs in response to a reflex. Both motor branches of the autonomous nervous system drive efferent outputs to the salivary glands. Cellular bodies of sympathetic motor fibers innervating salivary glands are located in the superior cervical ganglia. A multisynaptic pathway couples the superior cervical ganglia to hypothalamic areas related to the control of autonomous and endocrine functions. Projections from suprachiasmatic nuclei involved in circadian rhythms control reach those areas. Salivary glands postsynaptic beta-adrenoceptors control synthesis and secretion of proteins. Postsynaptic alpha 2-adrenoceptors modulate salivary responses mediated by alpha 1 and beta-adrenoceptors. Parotid alpha-amylase circadian rhythm in suckling rats, suggest that the sympathetic nervous system mediates an effect of light on saliva secretion. Analysis of: 1) parotid fine structure, 2) submandibular secretory response to adrenergic agonists, and 3) submandibular 3H-clonidine binding to alpha 2-adrenoceptors, demonstrated that an increase of sympathetic reflex activity occurs in salivary glands of rats chronically exposed to constant light. Similar effects were observed in rats chronically exposed to immobilization stress. Catecholamine biosynthetic enzyme mRNA levels in adrenal glands and superior cervical ganglia suggest that changes induced by light on salivary sympathetic reflex activity are mediated by plasma catecholamines released by adrenal glands. Post and presynaptic alpha 2 adrenoceptors could play an important role in saliva secretion control when light or stress stimuli modify the sympathoadrenal system.

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