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Detection of BrdU-label retaining cells in the lacrimal gland: implications for tissue repair

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The purpose of the present study was to determine if the lacrimal gland contains 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-label retaining cells and if they are involved in tissue repair. Animals were pulsed daily with BrdU injections for 7 consecutive days. After a chase period of 2, 4, or 12 weeks, the animals were sacrificed and the lacrimal glands were removed and processed for BrdU immunostaining. In another series of experiments, the lacrimal glands of 12-week chased animals were either left untreated or were injected with interleukin 1 (IL-1) to induce injury. Two and half days post-injection, the lacrimal glands were removed and processed for BrdU immunostaining. After 2 and 4 weeks of chase period, a substantial number of lacrimal gland cells were BrdU+ (11.98 ± 1.84 and 7.95 ± 1.83 BrdU+ cells/mm2, respectively). After 12 weeks of chase, there was a 97% decline in the number of BrdU+ cells (0.38 ± 0.06 BrdU+ cells/mm2), suggesting that these BrdU-label retaining cells may represent slow-cycling adult stem/progenitor cells. In support of this hypothesis, the number of BrdU labeled cells increased over 7-fold during repair of the lacrimal gland (control: 0.41 ± 0.09 BrdU+ cells/mm2; injured: 2.91 ± 0.62 BrdU+ cells/mm2). Furthermore, during repair, among BrdU+ cells 58.2 ± 3.6 % were acinar cells, 26.4 ± 4.1% were myoepithelial cells, 0.4 ± 0.4% were ductal cells and 15.0 ± 3.0% were stromal cells. We conclude that the murine lacrimal gland contains BrdU-label retaining cells that are mobilized following injury to generate acinar, myoepithelial and ductal cells.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the BRB Preclinical Repository of the NCI for the generous gift of recombinant human cytokines, the assistance of Tufts Center for Neuroscience Research P30 NS047243 (Jackson), Ms. Robin Hodges and Dr. Darlene Dartt for their critical reading of the manuscript and Dr. Fara Sourie for her invaluable contribution to this work.

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Correspondence to Driss Zoukhri.

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You, S., Tariq, A., Kublin, C.L. et al. Detection of BrdU-label retaining cells in the lacrimal gland: implications for tissue repair. Cell Tissue Res 346, 317–326 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-011-1271-x

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  • Progenitor cells
  • BrdU-label retaining cells
  • Tissue repair
  • Lacrimal gland