Fluid secretion by exocrine glandular organs is essential to the survival of mammals. Each glandular unit within the body is uniquely organized to carry out its own specific functions, with failure to establish these specialized structures resulting in impaired organ function. Here, we review glandular organs in terms of shared and divergent architecture. We first describe the structural organization of the diverse glandular secretory units (the end-pieces) and their fluid transporting systems (the ducts) within the mammalian system, focusing on how tissue architecture corresponds to functional output. We then highlight how defects in development of end-piece and ductal architecture impacts secretory function. Finally, we discuss how knowledge of exocrine gland structure-function relationships can be applied to the development of new diagnostics, regenerative approaches and tissue regeneration.

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