Some functions of Myoepithelial cells
The secretory end pieces and intercalated ducts are associated with stellate shaped contractile cells called the myoepithelial cells.
The cells are called “myo-epithelial” due to the fact that they are primarily derived from epithelial cells but exhibit certain characteristics of smooth muscle cells.
Some functions of a Myoepithelial cell
The main function of the myoepithelial cell is to contract and help squeeze out secretory products from the secretory end pieces to the ducts and finally to the oral cavity.
The repeated contractions of the myoepithelial cell helps in maintaining patency of the ducts.
Myoepithelial cells have also been postulated to maintain the structural integrity of the secretory end pieces and the cell polarity of the secretory acinar cells.
Interestingly, studies report that myoepithelial cells have a protective function in that they may secrete proteins that may have anti-cancer effects, like tumor-suppressor activity and anti-angiogenic activity. Tumor suppressor activity refers to inhibition of growth of cancerous cells while the anti-angiogenic activity refers to the inhibition of proliferation of blood vessels, which may be a source of nutrition for cancer cells.
Another controversial and speculated function of the myoepithelial cell, is the transport of metabolites through the multiple membrane infoldings called the caveolae.
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