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The mucosal pellicle - an underestimated factor in oral physiology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Christian Hannig, Matthias Hannig, Anna Kensche, Guy Carpenter

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Early online date8 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2017


King's Authors


Bioadhesion and bio-adsorption of proteins, glycoproteins and other biomolecules are ubiquitous phenomena in the oral cavity. While the protective role of the adsorbed salivary biomolecules on teeth (the acquired enamel pellicle) is well established, it has yet to be defined whether comparable processes occur on the desquamating oral soft tissues. The general term for these layers is pellicle, but due to the different characteristics of the coated surfaces the enamel pellicle and mucosal pellicle are their own entities. There is considerable information on the enamel pellicle, whereas only limited data are available on the mucosal pellicle. This can be attributed to the difficult standardized preparation of this biological structure. Based on the present knowledge the abundant and characteristic components of the mucosal pellicle include secreted soluble mucins (MUC5B, MUC7), membrane- associated epithelial mucins (MUC1), and to a lesser degree CA VI, sIgA, and cystatin. However, it seems to be of completely different ultrastructure as compared with the enamel pellicle. Since it is comprised of larger glycoproteins retaining water, it might be considered as a hydrogel, and it appears to have a lower tenacity than the enamel pellicle. Maturation and turnover are influenced by the delivery of salivary proteins, by the flow of saliva and the underlying desquamating oral epithelium. Its probable functions include lubrication and moisture retention. In general, the mucosal pellicle can be regarded as an underestimated key player in oral physiology.

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