The lingual serous glands of von Ebner are located close to the foliate and circumvallate papillae. Saliva secreted by these glands provides the immediate environment of the taste buds, and it has been hypothesized that it modulates taste perception. The purpose of this study was to develop a technique for collection of unstimulated and stimulated saliva from human von Ebner glands. Saliva was collected under resting conditions and after application of various gustatory stimuli (sweet, sour, salt, and bitter) by insertion of periostrips into the folds of the foliate papillae of healthy human volunteers. Stimulated saliva was also collected in glass microcapillaries or micropipettes. The flow-rates of unstimulated von Ebner saliva were 2.3 ± 0.6 (S.E.) μL/min and 4.5 ± 1.2 (S.E.) μL/min with 1% citric acid stimulation. The protein content was 2.5 ± 0.5 (S.E.) mg/mL. The SDS gel electrophoretic profile of von Ebner saliva revealed two protein bands of Mr 18,000 that were identified on Western blots as von Ebner gland (VEG) proteins. Although lingual lipase activity was detected at very low levels by enzyme assay, this protein was not detected on Western blots. This collection technique should prove useful for analysis of specific functions associated with secretion from von Ebner glands.
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