Formation of salivary acinar cell spheroids in vitro above a polyvinyl alcohol-coated surface.
ABSTRACT Tissue engineering of salivary glands offers the potential for future use in the treatment of patients with salivary hypofunction. Biocompatible materials that promote acinar cell aggregation and function in vitro are an essential part of salivary gland tissue engineering. In this study, rat parotid acinar cells assembled into three-dimensional aggregates above the polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-coated surface. These aggregates developed compact acinar cell spheroids resembling in vivo physiological condition, which were different from the traditional monolayered morphology in vitro. Cells remained viable and with better functional activity in response to acetylcholine in the spheroids and could form monolayered acinar cells when they were reinoculated on tissue culture polystyrene wells. To interpret the phenomenon further, we proposed that the formation of acinar cell spheroids on the PVA is mediated by a balance between two competing forces: the interactions of cell-PVA and cell-cell. This study demonstrated the formation of functional cell spheroids above a PVA-coated surface may provide an in vitro system for investigating cell behaviors for tissue engineering of artificial salivary gland.