U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Skip to Main Navigation
Skip to Page Content
Skip to Atlas Navigation

Harderian Gland – Necrosis

Image of necrosis in the Harderian gland from a male B6C3F1 mouse in a chronic study
Harderian gland - Necrosis in a male B6C3F1 mouse from a chronic study. Large areas are effaced and replaced by necrotic cell debris (arrows).
Figure 1 of 2
Image of necrosis in the Harderian gland from a male B6C3F1 mouse in a chronic study
Harderian gland - Necrosis in a male B6C3F1 mouse from a chronic study (higher magnification of Figure 1). There is abundant cellular debris and loss of cellular and architectural detail.
Figure 2 of 2
next arrow


Necrosis is characterized by cell swelling, nuclear pyknosis and/or karyorhexis, and loss of cellular and architectural detail. Extensive tissue necrosis is characterized by effacement of the normal architecture and replacement by necrotic cell debris ( Figure 1image opens in a pop-up window and Figure 2image opens in a pop-up window ). Necrosis is typically accompanied by inflammation. Hemorrhage or other tissue changes, such as mineralization, may also be present. Trauma associated with retro-bulbar bleeding procedures is a common cause of Harderian gland necrosis. Necrosis and degeneration of the Harderian gland can also result from excessive exposure to light; as an early change in sialodacyroadentis virus infection in rats; or from injection of irritants in the retrobulbar space.


If Harderian gland necrosis is a primary change (especially if related to treatment), it should be diagnosed and assigned a severity grade. If necrosis is a feature of other lesions (e.g., extensive inflammation), it should not be diagnosed separately (unless warranted by severity), though it should be described in the pathology narrative. Associated lesions, such as inflammation, hemorrhage, or mineralization, should not be diagnosed separately, unless warranted by severity.


Botts S, Jokinen M, Gaillard ET, Elwell MR, Mann PC. 1999. Salivary, Harderian, and lacrimal glands. In: Pathology of the Mouse: Reference and Atlas (Maronpot RR, Boorman GA, Gaul BW, eds). Cache River Press, Vienna, IL, 49-79.
Abstract: http://www.cacheriverpress.com/books/pathmouse.htm

Carlson BM, Rainin EA. 1985. Rat extraocular muscle regeneration: Repair of local anesthetic-induced damage. Arch Ophthalmol 103:1373-1377.
Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4038130

Carthew P, Slinger RP. 1982. Diagnosis of sialodacryoadenitis virus infection of rats in a virulent enzootic outbreak. Lab Anim 15:339-342.
Abstract: http://lan.sagepub.com/content/15/4/339.short

National Toxicology Program. 1992. NTP TR-388. Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Ethylene Thiourea (CAS: 96-45-7) in F344 Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Feed Studies). NTP, Research Triangle Park, NC.
Abstract: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/12227

O’Steen WK, Kraeer SL, Shear CR. 1978. Extraocular muscle and Harderian gland degeneration and regeneration after exposure of rats to continuous fluorescent illumination. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 17:847-856.
Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/700964/

Strum JM, Shear CR. 1982. Constant light exposure induces damage and squamous metaplasia in Harderian glands of albino mice. Tissue Cell 14:149-161.
Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7089962

Yoshitomi K, Boorman GA. 1990. Eye and associated glands. In: Pathology of the Fischer Rat: Reference and Atlas (Boorman GA, Eustis SL, Elwell MR, Montgomery CA, MacKenzie WF, eds). Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 239-260.
Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/9002563