Current cell models for bioengineering a salivary gland: a mini-review of emerging technologies

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Abstract

Saliva plays a major role in maintaining oral health. Patients afflicted with a decrease in saliva secretion (symptomatically, xerostomia) exhibit difficulty in chewing and swallowing foods, tooth decay, periodontal disease, and microbial infections. Despite recent improvements in treating xerostomia (e.g., saliva stimulants, saliva substitutes, and gene therapy), there is a need of more scientific advancements that can be clinically applied toward restoration of compromised salivary gland function. Here we provide a summary of the current salivary cell models that have been used to advance restorative treatments via development of an artificial salivary gland. These models represent initial steps toward clinical and translational research, to facilitate creation of clinically safe salivary glands. Further studies in salivary cell lines and primary cells are necessary to improve survival rates, cell differentiation, and secretory function. Additionally, the characterization of salivary progenitor and stem cell markers are necessary. Although these models are not fully characterized, their improvement may lead to the construction of an artificial salivary gland that is in high demand for improving the quality of life of many patients suffering from salivary secretory dysfunction.

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