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Endocytosis of native and cationized ferritin by intralobular duct cells of the rat parotid gland

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The ability of the intralobular ducts of the rat parotid gland to take up protein from the lumen was examined after retrograde infusion of native and cationized ferritin. At high concentrations (3–10 mg/ml), cells of both intercalated- and striated ducts avidly internalized the tracers. No differences were noted in the mode of uptake or fate of native or cationized ferritin. Large, apical ferritin-containing vacuoles up to 5 μm in size were present in cells of the intercalated ducts after infusion for 15 min. Small, smooth-surfaced spherical or flattened vesicles and tubules containing ferritin were also observed, often in association with the large vacuoles. Ferritin uptake increased with increasing infusion time, up to 1 h. Uptake by the striated ducts was less consistent than by the intercalated ducts, and occurred mainly in small vesicles and tubules. Secondary lysosomes became labeled with ferritin in both cell types. Ferritin was not observed in the Golgi saccules, nor was it discharged from the cells at the basolateral surfaces. At low concentrations (0.3–1 mg/ml), uptake was reduced, especially by cells of intercalated ducts, and differences were noted in the behavior of the two tracers. Cationized ferritin was internalized mainly into vesicles and tubules of cells of striated ducts; little uptake of native ferritin occurred at low concentrations. These results demonstrate that the ductal cells of the salivary glands are capable of luminal endocytosis of foreign proteins. They also suggest that in addition to modifying the primary saliva by electrolyte reabsorption and secretion, and secretion of various glycoproteins, the ductal cells are able to reabsorb proteins secreted by the acinar cells.

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Correspondence to Dr. Arthur R. Hand.

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Coleman, R., Hand, A.R. Endocytosis of native and cationized ferritin by intralobular duct cells of the rat parotid gland. Cell Tissue Res. 249, 577–586 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00217329

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Key words

  • Parotid gland
  • Duct cells
  • Ferritin
  • Endocytosis
  • Rat