Effect of ageing process on fungiform papillae density

Tomáš Fekete, Radoslav Židek, Marek Šnirc, Ľubomír Belej


Received: 2017-01-09 | Accepted: 2017-02-24 | Available online: 2017-06-20

Ageing is accompanied by physiological changes in the human oral cavity. These include potential reduction of the fungiform papillae (FP) density which has been associated with impaired taste acuity. Because the studies have demonstrated either contrary or non-significant evidences, we decided to verify the hypothesis about FP reduction and ageing. Total of 150 human living subjects aged 19–87 years participated in the study. The tongues were stained with blue food dye, quantification area with 10 mm diameter was defined, and images of the tongues were captured with digital camera. The number of FP has been scored on each photo by five individual scorers according to a decision tree. The scoring was accomplished in ImageJ open source program using a cell counter plugin. The mean FP density value within all subjects was 18.02 ±15.95 FP per cm-2, the lowest and the highest values were 0.25 ±0.57 FP per cm-2 and 65.00 ±1.66 FP per cm-2 of the tongue tip, respectively. Based on age, the subjects were divided into categories with 6.0 increasing step, in order access effect of ageing on FP densities. Age categories were significantly different in mean FP densities as determined by Welch's F (8, 22.04) = 28.81, P < 0.01). The Games-Howell post hoc test revealed that participants aged 18–24 years had significantly higher FP densities than subjects aged more than 48 years. High degree of intra-groups variance was observed, which could reflect in non-significant differences between the other age groups. Nevertheless, the results were sufficient to support the hypothesis that FP quantity diminish with age.

Keywords: fungiform papillae, density, tongue, ageing


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