BACKGROUND: Hyposalivation and xerostomia (dry mouth), are the leading site-effects to treatment of head and neck cancer. Currently, there are no effective therapies to alleviate radiation-induced hyposalivation. Adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (AT-MSCs) have shown potential for restoring salivary gland function. However, the mode of action is unknown. The purpose of the present study was therefore to characterize the effect of AT-MSC therapy on the salivary proteome in previously irradiated head and neck cancer patients.

METHODS: Whole saliva was collected from patients with radiation-induced salivary gland hypofunction (n = 8) at baseline, and 120 days after AT-MSC treatment, and from healthy controls (n = 10). The salivary proteome was characterized with mass spectrometry based proteomics, and data was compared within the AT-MSC group (baseline versus day 120) and between AT-MSC group and healthy controls. Significance levels between groups were determined by using double-sided t-test, and visualized by means of principal component analysis, volcano plots and cluster analysis.

RESULTS: Here we show that 140 human proteins are significantly differentially expressed in saliva from patients with radiation-induced hypofunction versus healthy controls. AT-MSC treatment induce a significant impact on the salivary proteome, as 99 proteins are differentially expressed at baseline vs. 120 days after treatment. However, AT-MSC treatment does not restore healthy conditions, as 212 proteins are significantly differentially expressed in saliva 120 days after AT-MSCs treatment, as compared to healthy controls.

CONCLUSION: The results indicate an increase in proteins related to tissue regeneration in AT-MSCs treated patients. Our study demonstrates the impact of AT-MSCs on the salivary proteome, thereby providing insight into the potential mode of action of this novel treatment approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunications medicine
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)160
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2022


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