The Causes and Damaging Effects of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth syndrome comes with a variety of undesirable conditions. As a consequence of insufficient wetting, impairment of oral functions such as speech, chewing, and swallowing, as well as a reduced lubrication of consumed foods is possible. Additionally, the oral mucosa can regularly be affected by ulceration, frictional trauma, while the mouth in general can be prone to excessive microbial overgrowth, leading to dental erosion, caries and oral candidiasis.
Systemic disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and their management through medication can cause dry mouth symptoms. There are also autoimmune causes, like Lupus, Sjögrens, sarcoidosis or chronic eczema. Besides these factors, a wide range of other diseases can result in dry mouth symptoms.
Besides the numerous medical therapies which can significantly decrease salivary gland function, the most severe cases are due to radiation therapy or chemotherapy in Head and neck cancer patients. The incidence of Head and Neck Cancer is globally increasing, with approx. 300.000 of newly diagnosed cases every year. Radiation therapy as one of the most important treatments in Head and Neck Cancer significantly affects healthy tissue which surrounds the tumour, which usually includes the salivary glands. The decline of gland function leading to dry mouth is called “xerostomia”, and often leads to the oral symptoms described above, which has a severe negative impact on quality of life of the patients.
Existing Therapies for Dry Mouth
Currently available treatments aim at improving salivary gland function, but all of them are symptomatic treatments. This means that those strategies merely stimulate the function of the remaining salivary gland tissue, or they provide limited improvement in lubrication. Some of them include sialagogues, saliva stimulants (such as sugar-free chewing gum and candy with weak acidity), and the application of saliva substitutes and oral lubricants. All of these bring short-term ease, but none of them regenerate the tissue for a long-term effect.
The Power of Stem Cells Treatment
Figure 1: salivary gland tissue restoration after injury by human adipose tissue-derived stem cells (hADSCs). Shown are H&E stained tissue samples. A. Control sample of a normal rat submandibular salivary gland. Visible is mixed glandular tissue. B. Tissue sample after radiation therapy at 18 Gy. Visible is coagulative necrosis and interstitial edema at 24 weeks. C. hADSC-treated cells of the salivary glands after treatment at 18 Gy. Tissue sample shows significant regeneration, with a greater number of normal tissue. D. Mean percentage of acinar cells in the salivary gland. Transplanted stem cells significantly increased acinar cells in irradiated tissue. © Xiong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License [CC BY_NC 3.0].1
Adult stem cells are abundant in almost all tissues. Stem cells have been identified as a resourceful option for the treatment of a wide range of degenerative disorders. Their effectiveness is known to lie in their secreted molecules, as well as in their ability to differentiate into different types of specialised cells. Recent research has shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and in particular Stem Cell Secretome Therapy have a number of characteristics which are useful in tissue regeneration, including anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects. Stem cells can enhance immunological parameters and tissue-regenerating properties. For radiation-induced xerostomia (which is dry mouth due to cancer radiation treatment), stem cells have shown promising results in recent studies 1,2. The results indicate that stem cells improve the amount of salive by 33% after four weeks and 50% after four months 2. Additionally, stem cells may reduce the amount of scar/fibrous tissue in the gland and the feeling of thirst.2
Please note that stem cell therapy is still an experimental therapy for all medical indications, including dry mouth. Therefore, your attending physician will assess the benefits and risks of stem cell-based therapy for your individual case. If the benefits outweigh the risks, your doctor can suggest the treatment as an option to you.
Stem Cell Treatment at ANOVA
ANOVA Institute for Regenerative Medicine is now offering stem cell treatment for patients with Dry Mouth syndrome. Get in touch with our medical professionals today to find out more about your treatment options.
1. Xiong, X., Shi, X., & Chen, F. (2014). Human adipose tissue derived stem cells alleviate radiation induced xerostomia. International journal of molecular medicine, 34(3), 749-755.
2. Grønhøj, C., Jensen, D. H., Vester-Glowinski, P., Jensen, S. B., Bardow, A., Oliveri, R. S., ... & Jensen, M. (2018). Safety and efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells for radiation-induced xerostomia: a randomized, placebo-controlled phase 1/2 trial (MESRIX). International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics, 101(3), 581-592.