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Oral Dis. 2011 Jul;17(5):445-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2010.01783.x. Epub 2011 Jan 11.

Salivary gland progenitor cell biology provides a rationale for therapeutic salivary gland regeneration.

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Matrix and Morphogenesis Unit, Laboratory of Cell and Developmental Biology, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4370, USA.


An irreversible loss of salivary gland function often occurs in humans after removal of salivary tumors, after therapeutic radiation of head and neck tumors, as a result of Sjögren's syndrome and in genetic syndromes affecting gland development. The permanent loss of gland function impairs the oral health of these patients and broadly affects their quality of life. The regeneration of functional salivary gland tissue is thus an important therapeutic goal for the field of regenerative medicine and will likely involve stem/progenitor cell biology and/or tissue engineering approaches. Recent reports demonstrate how both innervation of the salivary gland epithelium and certain growth factors influence progenitor cell growth during mouse salivary gland development. These advances in our understanding suggest that developmental mechanisms of mouse salivary gland development may provide a paradigm for postnatal regeneration of both mice and human salivary glands. Herein, we will discuss the developmental mechanisms that influence progenitor cell biology and the implications for salivary gland regeneration.

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