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May 1999

Black Taste Buds

Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(5):593-b-598. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-135-5-dof8025

The fungiform papilla consisted of a stratified squamous epithelium overlying a loose connective tissue core. Melanocytes and keratinocytes containing brown melanin granules were present along the base of the epithelium. Several melanophages with coarser melanin granules were evident within the connective tissue core or lamina propria.

In dark-skinned individuals, pigmented fungiform papillae of the tongue are common, yet they are seldom mentioned in the medical literature. They were first described in 1905 by Leonard1 as a putative adverse effect of human hookworm disease. In 1973, Holzwanger et al2 examined 300 random individuals and noted that among blacks 30% of the men and 25% of the women had some hyperpigmentation of their fungiform papillae. A study in healthy South African blacks found that 33 of 122 had pigmented fungiform papillae.3 The condition is more prevalent in people with dark complexions. In most cases, pigmented lesions are asymmetrical spots or plaques on the dorsal surface and lateral aspects of the tongue.4

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