Engineering of a secretory active three-dimensional lacrimal gland construct on the basis of decellularized lacrimal gland tissue
Lacrimal gland (LG) insufficiency is a main cause for severe dry eye leading to pain, visual impairment, and eventually loss of sight. Engineering of transplantable LG tissue with secretory capacity is a desirable goal. In this study, a three-dimensional decellularized LG (DC-LG) scaffold with preserved LG morphology was generated by treatment with 1% sodium deoxycholate and DNase solution using porcine LG tissue. To address clinical applicability, the primary in vitro culture of secretory active LG cells from a small tissue biopsy of 1.5 mm diameter was introduced and compared with an established isolation method by enzymatic digestion. Cells from both isolation methods depicted an epithelial phenotype, maintained their secretory capacity for up to 30 days, and exhibited progenitor cell capacity as measured by aldehyde dehydrogenase-1 activity, side population assay, and colony-forming units. Cells from passage 0 were reseeded into the DC-LG and secretory active cells migrated into the tissue. The cells resembled an LG-like morphology and the constructs showed secretory activity. These results demonstrate the possibility of engineering a secretory competent, three-dimensional LG construct using LG cells expanded from a small tissue biopsy and DC-LG as a matrix that provides the native structure and physiological niche for these cells.