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Mol Cells. 2018 Jun;41(6):515-522. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2018.0060. Epub 2018 Jun 11.

Characterization of Primary Epithelial Cells Derived from Human Salivary Gland Contributing to in vivo Formation of Acini-like Structures.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul 06351, Korea.
Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, Research Institute for Future Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul 06351, Korea.
Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Dental Research Institute, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University, Seoul 03080, Korea.
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University, Seoul 03080, Korea.
Department of Physiology, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University, Seoul 03080, Korea.


Patients with head and neck cancer are treated with therapeutic irradiation, which can result in irreversible salivary gland dysfunction. Because there is no complete cure for such patients, stem cell therapy is an emerging alternative for functional restoration of salivary glands. In this study, we investigated in vitro characteristics of primarily isolated epithelial cells from human salivary gland (Epi-SGs) and in vivo formation of acini-like structures by Epi-SGs. Primarily isolated Epi-SGs showed typical epithelial cell-like morphology and expressed E-cadherin but not N-cadherin. Epi-SGs expressed epithelial stem cell (EpiSC) and embryonic stem cell (ESC) markers. During long-term culture, the expression of EpiSC and ESC markers was highly detected and maintained within the core population with small size and low cytoplasmic complexity. The core population expressed cytokeratin 7 and cytokeratin 14, known as duct markers indicating that Epi-SGs might be originated from the duct. When Epi-SGs were transplanted in vivo with Matrigel, acini-like structures were readily formed at 4 days after transplantation and they were maintained at 7 days after transplantation. Taken together, our data suggested that Epi-SGs might contain stem cells which were positive for EpiSC and ESC markers, and Epi-SGs might contribute to the regeneration of acini-like structures in vivo. We expect that Epi-SGs will be useful source for the functional restoration of damaged salivary gland.


acinar and duct; epithelial cell; head and neck cancer; salivary gland; stem cell

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