Regenerative potential of murine lacrimal gland derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)
The lacrimal gland is an exocrine gland, producing the aqueous mid-layer of the tear film. Its complex composition serves to moisten the corneal and conjunctival epithelium and protects the ocular surface against debris and pathogens. Impairment of the lacrimal gland, which results in alterations to the quality or quantity of the tear film, could result in dry eye syndrome (DES). DES is classified as one of the most prominent eye diseases, affecting up to 14% of the US population. Despite this, there is not, as yet, a curative treatment. Current treatments remain palliative and focus on the reduction of pain and discomfort.
The aim of the study is to investigate the regenerative capacity of the lacrimal gland and the potential role for mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs are adult multipotent stem cells found in – among others - glandular tissues, such as salivary gland and pancreas. Recent studies transplanted MSCs in order to treat damaged salivary gland. An increase in salivary flow rate and a preserved lobular structure with a decrease of apoptotic acinar cells and a reduced lymphocytic infiltration was detected. Therefore, we aim to investigate the location, number and expression profile of MSCs after experimentally induced damage of the lacrimal gland in vivo, in order to elucidate their role during regeneration.
To examine the function of mesenchymal stem cells in lacrimal gland regeneration, we aim to establish a suitable in vivo model to examine the spontaneous regenerative capacity of the tissue after experimental damage. To evaluate the effects, we use several different gene and protein expression analysis methods including quantitative real-time PCR, Western Blotting, FACS analyses and immunohistochemistry.
To verify the feasibility and benefit of MSC transplantation into the lacrimal gland, we are using a transgenic mouse model in which it is possible to eliminate the stem cells from the tissue. After experimentally damaging the gland, we transplant MSCs into the gland and compare the regenerative capacity of the transplanted gland with the control gland (without MSCs) using a variety of cell and molecular biological methods.