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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 10 - Digestive System

Plate 10.182 Lingual Glands

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed

A. Mucous gland
B. Serous gland

Plate 10.182 Lingual Glands

Human, Zenker's fluid, iron hematoxylin and aldehyde fuchsin stains, 162 x.


The tongue has three groups of glands: serous, mucous, and mixed serous and mucous.

Mucous glands are interspersed between muscle bundles and serous glands. Their ducts terminate on the surface of the tongue. The mucous glands are most numerous in the root of the tongue. Their ducts open into the crypts of the lingual tonsil.

The serous glands (of von Ebner) are located in the region of the vallate papillae. They extend the muscle layer as shown in this figure. Ducts open into trenches of vallate papillae. Fat cells are scattered among the alveoli. The secretion of these glands moistens the epithelium and taste buds and flushes the trenches around the vallate papillae. These are important functions for taste discrimination.

Note that the serous cells forming the alveoli are wedge-shaped and well stained and that the lumina are narrow. In contrast, the mucous cells are pale and the lumina are much wider. Note that serous cell nuclei, although basally located, are not flattened like mucous cell nuclei.

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