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Chinese Journal of Dental Research
Chin J Dent Res 18 (2015), No. 3     21. Sep. 2015
Chin J Dent Res 18 (2015), No. 3  (21.09.2015)

Page 135-154, doi:10.3290/j.cjdr.a34778, PubMed:26485506

Role of Oral Mucosal Fluid and Electrolyte Absorption and Secretion in Dry Mouth
Zhang, Guo H. / Castro, Robert
Dry mouth is induced by dehydration of the oral mucosa, resulting from an imbalance of fluid supply and clearance within the oral cavity. Saliva is the major source of oral mucosal fluid, whereas oral fluid clearance includes evaporation and swallowing. Oral mucosal fluid absorption has been suggested to play a critical role in oral fluid clearance; over-absorption of water and ions across the oral mucosa under certain conditions may be a major component for oral fluid imbalance, leading to mucosal dehydration. While numerous studies have confirmed that the oral mucosa absorbs fluid and electrolytes, the pathways and mechanisms mediating the absorption remain undefined. The transcellular pathway regulating oral mucosal epithelial absorption includes aquaporins, epithelial Na+ channel and/or Na+/H+ exchanger, whereas the paracellular transport is likely to be mediated by tight junctions. The regulatory mechanisms of these pathways require further elucidation. It remains unclear whether the oral mucosa also secretes fluid and ions into the oral cavity. Although intercellular lipids secreted by epithelial cells form the major barrier to paracellular water and ion transport, the role and regulation of these lipids in oral mucosal hydration in physiological and pathological conditions need further investigation. Delineation of these mechanisms will be conducive to the development of preventive and therapeutic interventions for dry mouth.

Keywords: dry mouth, mucosal fluid film, mucosal transport pathways, oral mucosal dehydration, water and ion absorption and secretion