Functional lacrimal gland regeneration by transplantation of a bioengineered organ germ

Nat Commun. 2013;4:2497. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3497.


The lacrimal gland has a multifaceted role in maintaining a homeostatic microenvironment for a healthy ocular surface via tear secretion. Dry-eye disease, which is caused by lacrimal gland dysfunction, is one of the most prevalent eye diseases that cause corneal epithelial damage and results in significant loss of vision and a reduction in the quality of life. Here we demonstrate orthotopic transplantation of bioengineered lacrimal gland germs into adult mice with an extra-orbital lacrimal gland defect, a mouse model that mimics the corneal epithelial damage caused by lacrimal gland dysfunction. The bioengineered lacrimal gland germs and harderian gland germs both develop in vivo and achieve sufficient physiological functionality, including tear production in response to nervous stimulation and ocular surface protection. This study demonstrates the potential for bioengineered organ replacement to functionally restore the lacrimal gland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / pathology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / surgery
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / therapy*
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Graft Survival
  • Harderian Gland / transplantation*
  • Lacrimal Apparatus / pathology
  • Lacrimal Apparatus / surgery*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Polyglycolic Acid / chemistry
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Regeneration*
  • Tears / metabolism
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Transplantation, Homologous


  • Polyglycolic Acid