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J Oral Pathol Med. 2014 May;43(5):378-87. doi: 10.1111/jop.12145. Epub 2013 Dec 20.

Epiregulin is critical for the acinar cell regeneration of the submandibular gland in a mouse duct ligation model.

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Department of Pathology, Nihon University School of Dentistry, Tokyo, Japan.


Acinar cell regeneration from tubular structures has been reported to occur in duct-deligated salivary glands. However, the detailed process of acinar cell regeneration has not been clarified. We have developed a mouse duct ligation model to clarify the mechanisms underlying acinar cell regeneration, and we analyzed the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) ligands using the model. We studied these ligands expressions in the course of acinar cell regeneration using immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR methods. In the duct-ligated portion of the submandibular gland (SMG) that underwent atrophy, newly formed acinar cells were observed arising from the tubular structures after the release of the duct obstruction. The constitutive expression of EGFR was observed by immunohistochemistry in both the duct-ligated and duct-deligated animals as well as in normal controls. The EGFR phosphorylation detected on the tubular structures after duct ligation paralleled the acinar cell regeneration. RT-PCR showed an increase in the epiregulin and heparin-binding EGF levels from day 0 to day 3 after the release of the duct obstruction. The EGF level was increased only after day 7. In vitro, cultured cells isolated from ligated SMGs proliferated and produced EGF ligands following the addition of epiregulin to the culture medium. These findings suggest that the tubular structures localized in an atrophic gland are the source of acinar cell regeneration of the salivary gland. The induction of EGF ligands, in particular epiregulin, may play an important role in acinar cell regeneration in this model.


acinar cell; duct obstruction; epiregulin; hyposalivation; mouse; submandibular gland

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