Concise Review: A Critical Evaluation of Criteria Used to Define Salivary Gland Stem Cells

Stem Cells. 2019 Sep;37(9):1144-1150. doi: 10.1002/stem.3046. Epub 2019 Jun 19.


In the effort to develop cell-based therapies to treat salivary gland dysfunction, many different populations of cells in the adult salivary glands have been proposed as stem cells. These cell populations vary, depending on the assay used, and are often nonoverlapping, leading to the conclusion that salivary glands harbor multiple stem cells. The goal of this review is to critically appraise the assays and properties used to identify stem cells in the adult salivary gland, and to consider the caveats of each. Re-evaluation of the defining criteria may help to reconcile the many potential stem cell populations described in the salivary gland, in order to increase comparability between studies and build consensus in the field. Stem Cells 2019;37:1144-1150.

Keywords: Acinar; Lineage-restricted; Progenitor cell; Salivary gland; Stem cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Lineage / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Cell Self Renewal / physiology
  • Humans
  • Salivary Glands / cytology*
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / physiology*


  • Biomarkers