A feasibility study of salivary gland autograft transplantation for xerostomia

Jack E. Greer, Mahmoud Eltorky, K. Thomas Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background. Radiation-induced xerostomia is a frequent sequela in patients treated for cancer of the head and neck. One strategy to treat xerostomia would be to relocate portions of salivary tissue to adjacent submucosal sites that lie outside the radiation portals such as the anterior oral vestibule. It is not known whether salivary tissue transplanted as an autogenous free graft can survive, function adequately, and not produce mucoceles. Methods. Salivary gland tissue from the parotid and submandibular glands of the Syrian hamster were transplanted into the submucosal layer of the cheek pouch. After 3 months of observation, looking at graft size, graft extrusion, ulceration, infection, and mucocele formation, the graft sites were harvested. The specimens then underwent pathologic analysis by hematoxylin and eosin staining, as well as immunohistochemical methods to determine positivity for cytokeratin, smooth muscle actin (SMA), and amylase. Results. Histologic analysis of tissue harvested from Syrian hamsters grafted into the cheek pouch demonstrated intact, viable, organized salivary gland tissue. Eighty percent of the animals in the submandibular group and 63% of the animals in the parotid group had at least 1 graft with viable salivary tissue without undue complications. Conclusions. Salivary gland tissue can be transplanted successfully as free autogenous grafts in the Syrian hamster model. Further studies are needed to determine whether the grafts will subsequently become functional and whether growth can be biologically stimulated. This approach may be a useful strategy to protect salivary gland tissue in patients undergoing radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-246
Number of pages6
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Salivary gland
  • Transplantation
  • Xerostomia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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