Effects of Fluoride on Gastric Mucous Cells in the Rat

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The influence of fluoride on the production and secretion of mucus by the surface mucous cells of the stomach was investigated in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were given distilled drinking water or 150 ppm fluoride as sodium fluoride in their drinking water ad libitumfor 10 weeks. Stomachs were removed; no macroscopic differences were observed between the two groups. Tissue blocks of the glandular portion occupied by fundic glands were prepared for light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Paraffin-embedded sections were stained for neutral, acidic or sulfate-rich mucoid material. No abnormal epithelial cell morphology was seen and staining of the mucous cells lining the gastric pits was similar in both groups of animals. However, while most of the surface mucous cells in control animals showed loss of mucus, most of the surface mucous cells from fluoride-treated rats had rounded luminal contours and apically located mucoid material. Observation by SEM also suggested a reduction in the apical expulsion of mucous granules in the surface mucous cells of fluoride-treated rats. The free surfaces of most cells were smooth to gently rugged with no perforations indicating no loss of secretory material. Observation by TEM showed mucous cells with intact luminal surfaces but marked basal and lateral degeneration. Interdigitating arrays of thin processes were extensive laterally, and the intercellular space was widened. Some edema in the superficial portions of the mucosa was seen. Although it appears that the ingestion of 150 ppm fluoride in the drinking water does not interfere with mucus production, it does appear that fluoride alters mucous cell morphology and may interfere with the release of mucus into the lumen of the stomach.


Presented at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Anatomists, Washington, DC.



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