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M Lorber; Elastic fibers in the rat exorbital lacrimal gland duct system.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1989;30(9):2002-2011.
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In the rat, each paired subcutaneous exorbital lacrimal gland overlies the retromandibular area. The fibrous cord containing its ducts passes over the masticatory muscles to the temporal canthus. Thus, the lacrimal system must accomodate both jaw and lid movements. To see whether elastic fibers exist to modulate alterations in tension caused by such movements, light and electron micrographs were made of its duct system. The innermost elastic fibers are connected by elaunin fibrils and oxytalan microfibrils to the lamina densa, particularly near the hemidesmosomes. The innermost elastic fibers appear to be longitudinal and about 0.2 micron from the lamina densa. Circumferential fibers exist about 0.8-3.2 microns from that structure. More peripheral fibers of both orientations also exist. Light microscopy of the extraglandular duct demonstrated circumferential fibers near the basement membrane and longitudinal and angular elastic fibers amid the collagenous layers. Some of the longitudinal fibers assume a loose cross-weave. Intraglandularly, as duct size diminishes elastic fibers progressively decrease in number and size until the smallest ducts have none. Thus, an elastic gradient exists. It is believed that recoil of the angular elastic fibers aids distension of the large and medium ducts when secretion is great and that recoil of the circumferential ones permits those duct diameters to diminish when secretion does. The longitudinal elastic fibers would allow all but the smallest ducts to recoil from the stretching of much of the exorbital lacrimal duct system accompanying blinking and other facial movements.
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