Parotid glands of litters of rats at age intervals from 20 days in utero to 100 days were assayed for DNA content and examined by light- and electron-microscopy. The age differences in total DNA and DNA concentration indicated that there was a rapid rate of proliferation of parenchymal cells until 25 postnatal days, after which the rate declined rapidly, and that there was a rapid increase in cell size between 18 and 25 days. These findings were substantiated by histologic observations, such as the presence of numerous mitotic figures until 25 days of age, and the rapid maturation of the acinar cells between 18 and 25 days. These data suggest that the acinar cells of the rat parotid gland comprise an expanding cell population. Light- and electron-microscopic observations consistently indicated that cells with mitotic figures were about as well differentiated as other parenchymal cells at all stages of gland development, including mature acinar cells observed at ages 23 and 25 days. These observations support the view that the division of cells in advanced stages of differentiation may be important in the growth of certain organs and tissues.

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