Systemic transplantation of human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells for the regeneration of irradiation-induced salivary gland damage.

OBJECTIVES: Cell-based therapy has been reported to repair or restore damaged salivary gland (SG) tissue after irradiation. This study was aimed at determining whether systemic administration of human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hAdMSCs) can ameliorate radiation-induced SG damage.
METHODS: hAdMSCs (1 × 10(6)) were administered through a tail vein of C3H mice immediately after local irradiation, and then this infusion was repeated once a week for 3 consecutive weeks. At 12 weeks after irradiation, functional evaluations were conducted by measuring salivary flow rates (SFRs) and salivation lag times, and histopathologic and immunofluorescence histochemistry studies were performed to assay microstructural changes, apoptosis, and proliferation indices. The engraftment and in vivo differentiation of infused hAdMSCs were also investigated, and the transdifferentiation of hAdMSCs into amylase-producing SG epithelial cells (SGCs) was observed in vitro using a co-culture system.
RESULTS: The systemic administration of hAdMSCs exhibited improved SFRs at 12 weeks after irradiation. hAdMSC-transplanted SGs showed fewer damaged and atrophied acinar cells and higher mucin and amylase production levels than untreated irradiated SGs. Immunofluorescence TUNEL assays revealed fewer apoptotic cells in the hAdMSC group than in the untreated group. Infused hAdMSCs were detected in transplanted SGs at 4 weeks after irradiation and some cells were found to have differentiated into SGCs. In vitro, a low number of co-cultured hAdMSCs (13%-18%) were observed to transdifferentiate into SGCs.
CONCLUSION: The findings of this study indicate that hAdMSCs have the potential to protect against irradiation-induced cell loss and to transdifferentiate into SGCs, and suggest that hAdMSC administration should be viewed as a candidate therapy for the treatment of radiation-induced SG damage.

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