The secretory senescence in otorhinolaryngology: principles of treatment
Atrophy or hypofunction of the salivary gland because of aging, radiotherapy or disease causes hyposalivation and impairs the quality of life of patients by compromising mastication, swallowing and speech and by leading to a loss of taste. Moreover, hyposalivation exacerbates dental caries and induces periodontal disease, and oral candidiasis. Currently, no satisfactory therapies have been established to solve salivary hypofunction. Current treatment options for atrophy or hypofunction of the salivary glands in clinical practice are only symptomatic and include saliva substitutes and parasympathetic agonists, such as pilocarpine, to stimulate salivary flow. However, parasympathomimetics have systemic side effects, so different treatment options are necessary, and research has recently focused on this. The main strategies that have been proposed to restore salivary gland atrophy and hypofunction are gene therapy by gene activation/silencing during stem cell differentiation and by the use of viral vectors, such as adenoviruses; cell-based therapy with salivary gland cells, stem cells and non-salivary gland and/ or non-epithelial cells to regenerate damaged salivary gland cells; replacement with tissue bioengineering in which organoids from pluripotent stem cells are used in the development of organ replacement regenerative therapy. Remarkable progression in this research field has been made in the last decade, but a definitive therapy for salivary gland hypofunction has not been developed due to intrinsic challenges that come with each approach. However, with research efforts in the future, a range of precision medicine therapies may become available individualized to each patient.
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© Società Italiana di Gerontologia e Geriatria (SIGG) , 2020
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