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Tissue Eng Part A. 2008 Feb;14(2):331-7. doi: 10.1089/tea.2007.0122.

Isolation and cultivation of integrin alpha(6)beta(1)-expressing salivary gland graft cells: a model for use with an artificial salivary gland.

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  • 1Institute of Dental Sciences, Faculty of Dental Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel.


Regeneration of the salivary glands' (SGs) normal function for patients with cancer of the head and neck treated with irradiation would be a major contribution to their quality of life. This could be accomplished by re-implantation of autologous SG cells into the residual irradiated tissue or by implantation of tissue-engineered artificial SGs. Both methods depend on the isolation of cells able to propagate and differentiate into SG epithelial cells. Recently, it has been shown that SG integrin alpha(6)beta(1)-expressing (SGIE) cells have stem cell capabilities, but these cells could be isolated only after duct ligation insult requiring surgical intervention. Because such an invasive procedure is not clinically acceptable for these patients, our aim in the present study was to explore the use of immuno-magnetic separation of untreated and short heat stress-conditioned rats as a less-insulting methodology for enhancement of these cells. Our results show that submandibular SGIE cells could be isolated and cultivated from untreated animals. However, short heat stress (HS) increased the number of isolated SGIE cells 4.7-fold and their proliferation and clonal capability 4.6-fold and 3 fold, respectively. We believe that SGIE graft cells may be suitable candidates for future tissue-engineered SGs that have been damaged by irradiation in patients with head and neck cancer.

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