Salivary gland hypofunction often results from a number of causes, including the use of various medications, radiation for head and neck tumors, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and aging. Since treatments for this condition are lacking and adult salivary glands have little regenerative capacity, there is a need for cell-based therapies to restore salivary gland function. Development of these treatment strategies requires the establishment of a system that is capable of replicating the salivary gland cell "niche" to support the proliferation and differentiation of salivary gland progenitor cells. In this study, a culture system using three-dimensional silk fibroin scaffolds (SFS) and primary salivary gland epithelial cells (pSGECs) from rat submandibular (SM) gland and parotid gland (PG) was established and characterized. pSGECs grown on SFS, but not tissue culture plastic (TCP), formed aggregates of cells with morphological features resembling secretory acini. High levels of amylase were released into the media by both cell types after extended periods in culture on SFS. Remarkably, cultures of PG-derived cells on SFS, but not SM cells, responded to isoproterenol, a β-adrenergic receptor agonist, with increased enzyme release. This behavior mimics that of the salivary glands in vivo. Decellularized extracellular matrix (ECM) formed by pSGECs in culture on SFS contained type IV collagen, a major component of the basement membrane. These results demonstrate that pSGECs grown on SFS, but not TCP, retain important functional and structural features of differentiated salivary glands and produce an ECM that mimics the native salivary gland cell niche. These results demonstrate that SFS has potential as a scaffold for creating the salivary gland cell niche in vitro and may provide an approach for inducing multipotent stem cells to provide therapeutically meaningful numbers of salivary gland progenitor cells for regenerating these tissues in patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering