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The Harderian gland of two species of skink (Tiliqua rugosa and Hemiergis decresiensis): a discussion of the significance of lymphatic tissue in the squamate Harderian gland

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The Harderian gland is an orbital structure ubiquitous in reptiles. Numerous functions have been ascribed to this gland, including osmoregulation, chemoreception, and immunity. The anatomical, histological, histochemical, and ultrastructural characteristics of the Harderian gland of two species of skink, Tiliqua rugosa (Gray, 1825) and Hemiergis decresiensis (Cuvier, 1829), were examined. Mucous and serous secretory cells were observed in both species. In T. rugosa, mucous cells are located in a small anterior region, while serous cells occupy most of the gland. In contrast, the Harderian gland of H. decresiensis contains mainly serous cells, with a few anteriorly located mucous cells. In both species, the serous granules exhibit internal compartmentalization. There is no evidence of either lipid secretions or salt secreting cells. However, there were either a few plasma cells (H. decresiensis) or several lymphatic aggregations (T. rugosa) in the serous portion of the gland. The presence of such lymphatic tissue may suggest a role in either the head-associated lymphatic tissue (HALT) system or the eye-associated lymphatic tissue (EALT). The difference between these two is based upon terminology, the consolidation of which would allow meaningful comparative analyses. The presence of lymphatic tissue implies that the Harderian gland could play a role in ocular immunity.

La glande de Harder est une structure universellement présente dans l'orbite des reptiles. On lui attribue de nombreuses fonctions, y compris l'osmorégulation, la chimioréception et l'immunité. Nous avons examiné les caractéristiques anatomiques, histologiques, histochimiques et ultrastructurales de la glande de Harder chez deux espèces de scinques, Tiliqua rugosa (Gray, 1825) et Hemiergis decresiensis (Cuvier, 1829). Il existe des cellules sécrétrices muqueuses et séreuses chez les deux espèces. Chez T. rugosa, les cellules muqueuses se retrouvent dans une région antérieure réduite, alors que les cellules séreuses occupent presque toute la glande. En revanche, dans la glande de Harder d’H. decresiensis, il y a surtout des cellules séreuses et quelques cellules muqueuses en position antérieure. Chez les deux espèces, les granules séreux montrent un cloisonnement interne. Il n'y a pas d'indication de la présence de sécrétions de lipides ou de cellules sécrétrices de sels. Cependant, la portion séreuse de la glande contient ou bien quelques cellules plasmatiques (chez H.decresiensis) ou plusieurs agrégats lymphatiques (T. rugosa). La présence de ce tissu lymphatique indique peut-être un rôle ou bien dans le tissu lymphatique associé à la tête (HALT) ou alors dans le tissu lymphatique associé à l'oeil (EALT). La différence entre ces deux tissus est basée sur la terminologie, dont la consolidation permettrait des analyses comparatives significatives. La présence de tissu lymphatique laisse supposer que la glande de Harder puisse avoir un rôle dans l'immunité oculaire.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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