The aim of this study was to investigate the radiosensitivity of salivary gland tissue pretreated with isoproterenol to establish a status of depletion of secretory granules in acinar cells at the time of irradiation. Nuclear aberrations and cell lysis were taken as parameters for cell death. Local X irradiation with a single dose of 15 Gy induced comparable early morphological changes in the rat parotid and submandibular glands. During the first day after irradiation, the most obvious changes were degranulation of serous cells and induction of nuclear aberrations in both the secretory (serous as well as mucous) and intercalated duct compartment. Subsequently, progressive lysis occurred in secretory units but not in intercalated and striated ducts. Recovery of tissue integrity was observed from day 6. Early radiation-induced cell death was not reduced by isoproterenol-induced degranulation of acinar cells before irradiation. Subsequent recovery from radiation damage seemed to occur earlier in parotid glands but not in submandibular glands pretreated with isoproterenol. From the present study it is concluded that the radiosensitivity of serous salivary gland acini is not dependent on the presence of secretory granules at the time of irradiation. There was some evidence for a faster recovery from radiation damage observed after pretreatment with isoproterenol which may be the result of drug-induced stimulation of cell proliferation.

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