Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Mobilization of bone marrow stem cells by granulocyte colony-stimulating factor ameliorates radiation-induced damage to salivary glands.

PMID 16551865


One of the major reasons for failure of radiotherapeutic cancer treatment is the limitation in dose that can be applied to the tumor because of coirradiation of the normal healthy tissue. Late radiation-induced damage reduces the quality of life of the patient and may even be life threatening. Replacement of the radiation-sterilized stem cells with unirradiated autologous stem cells may restore the tissue function. Here, we assessed the potential of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-mobilized bone marrow-derived cells (BMC) to regenerate and functionally restore irradiated salivary glands used as a model for normal tissue damage. Male-eGFP+ bone marrow chimeric female C57BL/6 mice were treated with G-CSF, 10 to 60 days after local salivary gland irradiation. Four months after irradiation, salivary gland morphology and flow rate were assessed. G-CSF treatment induced homing of large number of labeled BMCs to the submandibular glands after irradiation. These animals showed significant increased gland weight, number of acinar cells, and salivary flow rates. Donor cells expressed surface markers specific for hematopoietic or endothelial/mesenchymal cells. However, salivary gland acinar cells neither express the G-CSF receptor nor contained the GFP/Y chromosome donor cell label. The results show that BMCs home to damaged salivary glands after mobilization and induce repair processes, which improve function and morphology. This process does not involve transdifferentiation of BMCs to salivary gland cells. Mobilization of BMCs could become a promising modality to ameliorate radiation-induced complications after radiotherapy.