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Human periodontal ligament stem cells isolated for the first time

etri dishes.

The scientists didn't have to wait long to get their answer. They noticed numerous rapidly dividing colonies that had the general characteristics of stem cells. According to Dr. Byoung-Moo Seo, an NIDCR scientist and lead author on the study, the group confirmed their observation by detecting two proteins (STRO-1 and CD146/MUC18) that are known to reside on the surface of mesenchymal stem cells, the general type of postnatal stem cell from which those in the periodontal ligament would be developmentally derived.

Seo said they also detected an unusually high level of a gene-activating protein (Scleraxis) that is specific to cells in tendons, further suggesting they had periodontal ligament stem cells. "It's amazing how well these cells replicate," said Seo. "In fact, we had over 100 doubles of the stem-cell colonies in culture. That's similar to the replication rate of dental pulp stem cells, which are known to proliferate very rapidly."

After further validation of their findings, Shi said he and his colleagues decided to pursue the next big question: Could these stem cells actually form periodontal ligament and cementum when transplanted into mice?

Of the 13 transplants - each of which was derived from a distinct colony of stem cells cultured in the laboratory and loaded into a hydroxyapetite carrier - eight produced a dense mixture of cementum and periodontal ligament. Interestingly, the cells even produced fibrous structures similar to the so-called Sharpey's fibers, which insert into both cementum and bone to hold teeth in place. The other five transplants showed no signs of differentiation.

Shi said his group is now following up on this finding in larger animals. If successful, Shi said he would be eager to evaluate their regenerative ability in people with advanced periodontal disease, which can be extremely difficult to control with current treatments. "From a clinical point of view, what'
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Contact: Bob Kuska
kuskar@nidcr.nih.gov
301-594-7560
NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
8-Jul-2004


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