Expression of the homeostasis-related markers, maspin, heat shock proteins 70 & 90, glutathione S-transferase, aquaporin 5 and NF-kB in young and old labial and palatal salivary glands

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Intraoral salivary glands undergo remarkable age-related morphologic changes. This study investigated the expression of a panel of molecular markers known for cellular homeostatic activity, dependent on age and location of the salivary glands. Samples taken from healthy subjects were classified according to age (“young” < 45 years, n=51, and “old” ≥ 60 years, n=45) and location (lip, n=47 and palate, n=49). They were immunohistochemically stained for mammary serine protease inhibitor (maspin), heat shock protein (HSP)70, HSP90, glutathione S-transferase (GST), aquaporine5 (AQP5), and nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) for assessment of their expression in acini and ducts, and in cytoplasmic and nuclear compartments. Results were expressed as the mean percentage of positively stained component per age group, gland location and type of cell and cellular compartment. Statistical analysis was performed by two-way ANOVA and crosstabs. The expression of maspin was lower in the old group in both the palatal and labial glands (acini and ducts, cytoplasm and nuclei) compared to the young group (p<0.05). In both age groups, when compared to labial glands, palatal glands exhibited higher expression of HSP70 (p<0.05) and lower expression of AQP5 (p<0.001) and NF-κB (p=0.018). Collectively, the low expression of factors capable of preserving cellular homeostasis (i.e., maspin and AQP5) vis-à-vis a high expression of factors that are also related to cell survival (i.e., HSPs) that was demonstrated in the old palatal glands may point to their high vulnerability to undergo selective phenotypic changes.

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