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Biomedical Reviews

The thermolytic salivation of the rat and the kallikrein-kinin system

Jacques Damas


Rat submandibitlar glands contain high amounts of tissue kallikrein which cleaves plasma kininogens to form bradykinin. A large release of tissue kallikrein can be experimentally obtained by a sympathetic stimulation. Parasympathically evoked and reflex-induced salivary secretion is associated with a small release of kallikrein into the saliva, except in the case of heat stress. In rats exposed to heat, submandibular glands are stimulated by both parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves, saliva contains relatively high level of tissue kallikrein, plasma levels of this enzyme are increased and a large depletion of tissue kallikrein in sitbmandibular glands occurs. Simultaneously, a swelling of the glands and an edema of the soft tissues surrounding them develop. The release of tissue kallikrein can participate to the thermoregulation of rats exposed to heat as the thermolytic flow of saliva is reduced and the hyperthermia is increased in kininogen-deficient rats. The kallikrein-kinin system is not involved in the functional vasodilatation occurring in salivary glands during heat stress. This massive release of kallikrein during heat stress could be seen as an emergency response of the animals to the increase of body temperature.

Biomedical Reviews 1998; 9: 69-77.

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Jacques Damas
University of Liège

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