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Cell Tissue Res. 2011 Dec;346(3):317-26. doi: 10.1007/s00441-011-1271-x. Epub 2011 Nov 19.

Detection of BrdU-label retaining cells in the lacrimal gland: implications for tissue repair.

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Department of General Dentistry, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA 0211, USA.


The purpose of the present study was to determine if the lacrimal gland contains 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-label retaining cells and if they are involved in tissue repair. Animals were pulsed daily with BrdU injections for 7 consecutive days. After a chase period of 2, 4, or 12 weeks, the animals were sacrificed and the lacrimal glands were removed and processed for BrdU immunostaining. In another series of experiments, the lacrimal glands of 12-week chased animals were either left untreated or were injected with interleukin 1 (IL-1) to induce injury. Two and half days post-injection, the lacrimal glands were removed and processed for BrdU immunostaining. After 2 and 4 weeks of chase period, a substantial number of lacrimal gland cells were BrdU(+) (11.98 ± 1.84 and 7.95 ± 1.83 BrdU(+) cells/mm(2), respectively). After 12 weeks of chase, there was a 97% decline in the number of BrdU(+) cells (0.38 ± 0.06 BrdU(+) cells/mm(2)), suggesting that these BrdU-label retaining cells may represent slow-cycling adult stem/progenitor cells. In support of this hypothesis, the number of BrdU labeled cells increased over 7-fold during repair of the lacrimal gland (control: 0.41 ± 0.09 BrdU(+) cells/mm(2); injured: 2.91 ± 0.62 BrdU(+) cells/mm(2)). Furthermore, during repair, among BrdU(+) cells 58.2 ± 3.6 % were acinar cells, 26.4 ± 4.1% were myoepithelial cells, 0.4 ± 0.4% were ductal cells and 15.0 ± 3.0% were stromal cells. We conclude that the murine lacrimal gland contains BrdU-label retaining cells that are mobilized following injury to generate acinar, myoepithelial and ductal cells.

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