Distribution of taste and general sensory nerve endings in fungiform papillae of the hamster

Mark C. Whitehead, Cynthia S. Beeman, Brenda A. Kinsella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


Sensory endings of chorda tympani and lingual (trigeminal) nerve fibers were identified by selective denervation and localized within specific regions of fungiform pipillae in the hamster. The chorda tympani was resected from the middle ear and the peripheral fibers were allowed to degenerate for 1, 3, or 8 days prior to perfusion‐fixation and electron‐microscopic examination of the anterior tongue. Taste buds were virtually devoid of intact nerves by 3 days following chorda tympani denervation. Remnants of the fibers were restricted to taste buds. Lingual fibers, on the other hand, persist in normal numbers after chorda tympani resection and populate perigemmal areas of connective tissue and extragemmal areas located apically in the squamous, nontaste epithelium surrounding the taste bud. This study provides evidence of a segregation of chorda tympani fibers in the taste bud and lingual nerve fibers in the apical fungiform papilla. The lingual nerve‐epithelial arrangement and superficial location, near the least cornified area of the tongue, may be well suited for relatively sensitive somatosensation, possibly mechanoreception. Thus, the apical fungiform papilla appears to be a site where both taste and tactile oral stimuli interact with receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-201
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Anatomy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy


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