Background and purpose: Salivary gland dysfunction is a major side effect of radiotherapy for head and neck cancer patients, which in the future might be salvaged by autologous adult salivary gland stem cell (SGSC) therapy. Since frail elderly patients may have decreased activity of SGSCs, we aimed to characterize the potential of aged SGSC-population in a murine model.
Materials and methods: Salivary glands and salisphere-derived cells from young and old mice were tested for CD24 and CD29 stem cell marker expression using FACS. Moreover, in vitro expansion capability and in vivo regeneration potential upon post-irradiation transplantation of young and aged SGSCs were measured.
Results: An increase in CD24(hi)/CD29(hi) putative stem cells was detected in aged salivary glands albeit with a decrease in functional ability to form salispheres. However, the salispheres formed from aged mice salivary glands expressed CD24(hi)/CD29(hi) to the same extent as the ones from young mice. Moreover, following exposure to adequate growth conditions old and young SGSCs exhibited similar in vitro expansion- and in vivo regeneration potential.
Conclusions: Aged SGSCs although reduced in number are in vitro indistinguishable from young SGSCs and could potentially be used to ameliorate age- or treatment related salivary gland dysfunction. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.