Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


The Submandibular Salivary Gland (SMG) is formed by iterative branching of epithelial cells into secretory acinar endbuds and branched ducts that are extensively innervated by parasympathetic nerves which can influence gland development. Carbarrylcholine or carbachol, (an acetylcholine neurotransmitter analog), is a drug that binds to and activates the acetylcholine receptor. Previous research has suggested that carbachol on SMGs might delay ductal differentiation and affect actin localization in cells lining the lumen of ducts. Vitamin C has been shown to enhance matrix protein synthesis, which may accelerate cell differentiation. My goal was to test whether and how carbachol or modulation of vitamin C levels could be used to delay SMG gland grwoth and differentiation so that the glands could be cultured longer in vitro. My results show that carbachol treatment had not effect on intact or mesenchyme-free gland growth and morphology but did affect differentiation in the latter, as measured by actin localization around developing luminal duct cells. Vitamin C affected both morphology and differentiation by accelerating branching and actin accumulation along luminal ductal cells, respectively. We can thus use these molecules as tools in artificial salivary gland regeneration and tissue engineering studies to eventually treat patients with salivary gland hypofunction.

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