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Effects of cystic fibrosis serum on the rat parotid gland

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Injections of serum from human patients with cystic fibrosis into adult rats caused pronounced structural modifications and increased mitotic rate in the parotid gland. Mitotic rate was increased from a low level of 0.02/1,000 acinar cells in parotid glands of adult rats to 6.5/1,000 acinar cells after 2 or 3 days of serum injection. At the light and electron microscopic levels, significant acinar cell atrophy and degranulation were observed. Cellular necrosis, and increases in quantity of lysosome-like dense bodies, mast cells, and macrophages were also detected. These changes are suggestive of tissue response to injurious foreign protein. Furthermore, the fact that normal sera pronounced the same kind of effects (but greatly reduced in extent) strengthens the view that these effects result from the immunologic response of the host organ to foreign antigen. Since, however, the responses of the rat parotid to cystic fibrosis serum were considerably more marked than those elicited by normal serum, the rat parotid may thus have potential usefulness in assaying for the presence of human cystic fibrosis factor.

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Correspondence to Dr. Charlotte A. Schneyer.

Additional information

This work was supported in part by U.S.P.H.S. Grant DE 02110

The authors wish to thank Dr. Alexander Spock, Cystic Fibrosis Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, and Dr. Ralph Tiller, Children's Hospital, University of Alabama Medical Center, for generously supplying blood from patients with cystic fibrosis. The authors also want to thank Dr. A. Siegel, Department of Pathology, University of Alabama Medical Center, and Mr. R. Siegel, for determinations of serum catecholamine levels

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Schneyer, C.A., Wilborn, W.H. Effects of cystic fibrosis serum on the rat parotid gland. Cell Tissue Res. 169, 111–121 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00219311

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Key words

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Bioassay, cystic fibrosis
  • Mitotic rate
  • Rat parotid