Temporary accumulation of glycogen in the epithelial cells of the developing mouse submandibular gland.
ABSTRACT Temporary accumulation of glycogen in the epithelial cells of the developing mouse submandibular gland was examined under light microscopic histochemistry and electron microscopy. To avoid loss of water-soluble glycogen during histological tissue preparation, fixation with ethanol and embedding in hydrophilic glycol methacrylate resin was used for light microscopy, and high-pressure freezing/freeze substitution for electron microscopy. Glycogen was detected on periodic acid-Schiff stain, periodic acid-thiosemicarbazide-silver proteinate reaction, and the digestion test with alpha-amylase. On embryonic day 14, glycogen began to accumulate in the proximal portions of the developing epithelial cords. On embryonic day 17, marked glycogen particles were seen at the basal portion of the ductal epithelial cells and an abrupt increase of glycogen accumulation occurred in the secretory cells in the terminal bulbs. Ultrastructural observation indicated large clumps of glycogen particles localized in the basal portion of the terminal bulb cells. The initiation of glycogen accumulation preceded the formation of lumens in the ducts and terminal bulbs. Furthermore, proliferation analysis by bromodeoxyuridine labeling showed that this glycogen accumulation followed the cessation of the epithelial cell proliferation. Postnatally, glycogen accumulation in the terminal bulbs became gradually inconspicuous and completely disappeared by postnatal day 3, but that in the ducts was retained until around postnatal day 12. Temporary glycogen accumulation after the cell proliferation and before/during the lumen formation and secretory granule formation suggests significant involvement of the carbohydrate metabolism in the organogenesis of the submandibular gland.