Sjögren's syndrome (SS) is an autoimmune disease affecting around 3 million people in the US alone, predominantly women. A major characteristic of the disease is salivary gland (SG) hypofunction. In the present study, the researchers looked at the inability of resident SG stem cells (SGSCs) to maintain homeostasis and saliva production in the glands. SGSCs were isolated from parotid biopsy samples from patients. In vitro assays were done to assess self-renewal and differentiation: transcription analysis, single telomere length analysis and immunohistochemical analysis. The researchers show that SGSCs from diseased patients are lower in number, less able to differentiate and in a more senescent stage. The results demonstrate for the first time a link between autoimmune disease and a premature-ageing phenotype and give hints to the kind of therapeutics to be developed.
Salivary gland stem cells age prematurely in primary Sjögren's syndrome
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