Scientists developed tear duct organoids

Nothing to cry about: the development of tear duct organoids.


Stem cells can transform into any cell in the body. Treatment with a predetermined series of signaling molecules can direct stem cell differentiation and self-organization into organoids that resemble the body’s organs when grown in a cultural environment that encourages aggregation.

Using human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, scientists at Osaka University have developed three-dimensional (3D) human stem cell-derived organoids that model the tear duct (also known as the lacrimal gland).

The lacrimal gland, located inside the eyelid, is responsible for producing fluid that facilitates the vision and protects the eye. Decreased tear production is associated with dry eye syndrome.

Lead researcher/first author Ryuhei Hayashi said, “To create lacrimal gland organoids, we first isolated lacrimal gland progenitor cells from our 2D human eye-like organoids. We found that further culture of this progenitor cell population, which expressed early markers of lacrimal gland development, resulted in the successful formation of 3D lacrimal gland organoids.”

Along with showing organization patterns characteristic of the lacrimal gland, the organoids expressed vital markers associated with lacrimal gland development.

To test the organoids’ functionality, the scientists implanted lacrimal gland organoids into mice who had their lacrimal glands partially or completely removed.

Last author Kohji Nishida said“We were pleased to find that post-transplantation, the organoids demonstrated differentiation into mature lacrimal gland tissue.”

“These lacrimal gland organoids may serve as a foundation for developing regenerative therapies and drugs for the treatment of severe dry eye syndrome associated with Sjogren’s syndrome and other disorders.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Ryuhei Hayashi, Toru Okubo, Yuji Kudo, Yuki Ishikawa, Tsutomu Imaizumi, Kenji Suzuki, Shun Shibata, Tomohiko Katayama, Sung-Joon Park, Robert D. Young, Andrew J. Quantock, Kohji Nishida. Generation of 3D lacrimal gland organoids from human pluripotent stem cells. Nature, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04613-4
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