To study the dorsal surface of the human tongue using a scanning electron microscopy (SEM), tissue specimens were taken from the anterior part of the tongues of 15 individuals aged from 21- to 28-years-old. The formalin-fixed samples were processed routinely for SEM. With SEM the surface of the normal tongue mucosa was shown to be rather evenly covered by filiform papillae, with some fungiform papillae scattered among them. Filiform papillae consisted of two parts: the body and hairs. The mucosal surface of the body was smooth; the squamous epithelial cells were polygonal, and their boundaries were prominent. On the surface of the superficial epithelial cells were parallel or branching microplicae. Each filiform papilla had 6–10 hairs, which were scaled and covered by an extensive plaque of microorganism. The upper surface of the fungiform papillae was smooth; only a few desquamating cells were seen. The superficial cells had a pitted appearance and cell boundaries overlapped. Taste pores, up to 3 pores in a single papilla, were found on the upper surface. Desquamation was more pronounced on the base of the fungiform papillae than on the upper surface. In almost all fungiform papillae some hairs protruded from the base. Parallel microplicae were found on the surface of the superficial cells of the base. The structure and function of the human tongue, as well as the microplicae of its superficial cells, are compared to those of various species of animals.

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