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General E.N.T.
April 1962

Endocrine Function of Submaxillary Glands

Arch Otolaryngol. 1962;75(4):346-363. doi:10.1001/archotol.1962.00740040355008

For many years the salivary glands, particularly the parotids, have been suspected of possessing insulin-like endocrine activity associated with carbohydrate metabolism.18 Because they are histologically similar to the pancreas (particularly the submaxillary glands) and anatomically and functionally also close to the gastrointestinal tract, many investigators have studied their structure microscopically and, indeed, have found numerous elements similar—but not identical—to the structure of pancreatic islets.

In recent studies triiodothyronine labeled with radioiodine showed a high affinity for pituitary, adrenals, ovaries, pancreas, and submaxillary glands.7 Other studies showed that the submaxillary glands—and possibly other salivary glands—have a regulatory mechanism for controlling the concentration of circulating thyroid hormone in the blood.22 Such studies led Japanese workers to isolate from the parotid glands the hormone "parotin," a powerful metabolic regulator of various electrolytes.42

The salivary glands' exocrine activity in the digestive processes and in water-electrolyte balance is of rather minor

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