Fungiform taste bud degeneration in C57BL/6J mice following chorda-lingual nerve transection

J Comp Neurol. 2007 Sep 10;504(2):206-16. doi: 10.1002/cne.21436.


Taste buds are dependent on innervation for normal morphology and function. Fungiform taste bud degeneration after chorda tympani nerve injury has been well documented in rats, hamsters, and gerbils. The current study examines fungiform taste bud distribution and structure in adult C57BL/6J mice from both intact taste systems and after unilateral chorda-lingual nerve transection. Fungiform taste buds were visualized and measured with the aid of cytokeratin 8. In control mice, taste buds were smaller and more abundant on the anterior tip (<1 mm) of the tongue. By 5 days after nerve transection taste buds were smaller and fewer on the side of the tongue ipsilateral to the transection and continued to decrease in both size and number until 15 days posttransection. Degenerating fungiform taste buds were smaller due to a loss of taste bud cells rather than changes in taste bud morphology. While almost all taste buds disappeared in more posterior fungiform papillae by 15 days posttransection, the anterior tip of the tongue retained nearly half of its taste buds compared to intact mice. Surviving taste buds could not be explained by an apparent innervation from the remaining intact nerves. Contralateral effects of nerve transection were also observed; taste buds were larger due to an increase in the number of taste bud cells. These data are the first to characterize adult mouse fungiform taste buds and subsequent degeneration after unilateral nerve transection. They provide the basis for more mechanistic studies in which genetically engineered mice can be used.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axotomy
  • Chorda Tympani Nerve / physiology*
  • Female
  • Lingual Nerve / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Neurofilament Proteins / physiology
  • Taste / physiology
  • Taste Buds / pathology*
  • Tongue / anatomy & histology
  • Tongue / innervation*


  • Neurofilament Proteins