The lacrimal gland plays an important role in maintaining a homeostatic environment for healthy ocular surfaces via tear secretion. Dry eye disease, which is caused by lacrimal gland dysfunction, is one of the most prevalent eye disorders and causes ocular discomfort, significant visual disturbances, and a reduced quality of life. Current therapies for dry eye disease, including artificial tear eye drops, are transient and palliative. The lacrimal gland, which consists of acini, ducts, and myoepithelial cells, develops from its organ germ via reciprocal epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during embryogenesis. Lacrimal tissue stem cells have been identified for use in regenerative therapeutic approaches aimed at restoring lacrimal gland functions. Fully functional organ replacement, such as for tooth and hair follicles, has also been developed via a novel three-dimensional stem cell manipulation, designated the Organ Germ Method, as a next-generation regenerative medicine. Recently, we successfully developed fully functional bioengineered lacrimal gland replacements after transplanting a bioengineered organ germ using this method. This study represented a significant advance in potential lacrimal gland organ replacement as a novel regenerative therapy for dry eye disease. In this review, we will summarize recent progress in lacrimal regeneration research and the development of bioengineered lacrimal gland organ replacement therapy.
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