Oral homeostasis is severely compromised upon salivary gland atrophy, which occurs after radiation therapy in head and neck cancer patients. Salivary gland hypofunction typically leads to xerostomia, dysphagia, dental caries, and other oropharyngeal infections, reducing the quality of life in afflicted patients [. 70]. Currently, xerostomia has no cure. Palliative therapies such as oral sialagogues and saliva substitutes only improve mild cases of xerostomia. Generation of a functional, tissue-engineered salivary gland will benefit patients suffering from xerostomia. Engineering of glandular tissue requires several essential components, including primary cells that retain biomarkers typical of the native gland, extracellular matrix proteins that can orchestrate the differentiation of primary cells into functional structures, and a scaffold that can hold these components together and recreate the microenvironment found in native glandular tissue. Additionally, vascularization and innervation must reach the implant for it to survive and function in vivo.
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