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RGO - Revista Gaúcha de Odontologia

Print version ISSN 0103-6971On-line version ISSN 1981-8637

RGO, Rev. Gaúch. Odontol. vol.65 no.3 Campinas July/Sept. 2017 


Mesenchymal stem cells in periodontics: new perspectives

Células mesenquimais indiferenciadas em periodontia: novas perspectivas

Bruna Rabelo AMORIM1 

Enilson Antonio SALLUM2 

Marcio Zaffalon CASATI2 

Karina Gonzales Silverio RUIZ2 

Renato Correa Viana CASARIN2 

Kamila Rosamilia KANTOVITZ3 

Francisco Humberto NOCITI JUNIOR2 

1Universidade de Brasília, Faculdade de Saúde, Laboratório de Histopatologia Bucal. Asa Norte, 70910900, Brasília, DF, Brasil.

2Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Faculdade de Odontologia, Departamento de Prótese e Periodontia. Piracicaba, SP, Brasil.

3Faculdade São Leopoldo Mandic, Curso de Odontologia. Campinas, SP, Brasil.


Tissue engineering is a contemporary field of science, which aims to create conditions based on principles of cell and molecular biology, bioengineering and biomaterials to regenerate tissues. Mesenchymal stem cells present high proliferation rates and are able to differentiate into multilineages under certain conditions, suggesting that they have great potential to act in regeneration field. Tooth derived stem cells are a suitable alternative source of mesenchymal cells once they are easily accessible and have poor morbidity to the donor. Studies showed that they have been isolated and characterized from diverse tissues such as dental pulp, exfoliated deciduous teeth, periodontal ligament, gingiva, dental follicle and apical papilla. However studies show that there is heterogeneity among these populations and there is no standard method to select the most appropriate tooth derived stem cells for regenerative procedures. The aim of this review is to present the current perspective of the multiple types of tooth-derived stem cells and to discuss the basis for their use in periodontal tissue engineering.

Indexing terms: Periodontics; Stem cells; Tissue engineering


A engenharia de tecidos é um campo contemporâneo da ciência, que visa criar condições baseadas em princípios de biologia celular e molecular, bioengenharia e biomateriais para regenerar tecidos. As células tronco mesenquimais apresentam altas taxas de proliferação e são capazes de se diferenciar, sob certas condições, em multi-linhagens, sugerindo que elas têm grande potencial para atuar no campo da regeneração. As células tronco derivadas de tecidos dentais são uma fonte alternativa adequada de células mesenquimais uma vez que são de fácil acesso e têm baixa morbidade para o doador. Estudos demonstraram que elas já foram isoladas e caracterizadas a partir de diversos tecidos tais como polpa dentária, dentes decíduos esfoliados, ligamento periodontal, gengiva, folículo dental e papila apical. Entretanto, os estudos demonstram que há heterogeneidade entre essas populações e não existe um método padrão para selecionar as células-tronco dentais mais apropriadas para procedimentos regenerativos. O objetivo desta revisão é apresentar o conhecimento atual dos vários tipos de células-tronco derivadas de dentes e discutir as novas perspectivas para seu uso na engenharia de tecidos periodontais.

Termos de indexação: Periodontia; Células-tronco; Engenharia tecidual


Tissue engineering is an emerging field, which aims to guide formation, repair, and vascularization of organs by using biological and physical principals. The basic components for tissue engineering involve the interaction of three factors: scaffolds, signaling molecules, and cells. This interactive triad targets the production of functional and biocompatible conditions for tissue regeneration1. Stem cells (SCs) are an increasing subject once they are a way to regenerate injured tissues and should improve the treatment of some illness that so far has no resolution such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. They can be obtained from earliest stages of development to adult stage2-3. Embrionic SCs are a pluripotent cell type which can differentiate into all cells of the body but ethical issues like the using of human embryos for research purpose prevents further development in the field, thus Adult SCs are the cell choice for investigation. They have differentiation abilities but it is restricted to some cell types. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are included on this group4-5.

MSCs are widely studied within the medical field because of their therapeutic potential. They present high proliferation rates and can be induced to differentiate into multiple lineages2. These populations are very heterogeneous once there is no defined marker to identify mesenchymal stem cells6. International Society for cell therapy proposed a minimal criteria to define mesenchymal stem cells phenotype, which include be plastic adherent in standard cutures, expression of CD 105, CD 73 and CD 90 but not CD45, CD34, CD14 or CD11b, CD79a or CD19; major histocompatibility complex class II surface molecules and the potential to differentiate into osteoblasts, adipocytes and chondroblasts. Also they must present fibroblast-like spindle shape in culture7. Dental tissues are a good alternative source of MSCs, once they are easily accessible with insignificant or no morbidity of the donor site. Various types of tooth-derived stem cells (TDSCs) have been isolated from dental tissues, which include dental pulp8-12, exfoliated deciduous teeth13-17, periodontal ligament, dental follicle18-20, apical papilla21-24, periodontal ligament of deciduous teeth14-15,25-27 and gingival tissue stem cells28. This review article proposes to summarize the literature regarding the current knowledge about stem cells from dental tissue, and their potential in regenerative therapy.


Variable methodologies are used to isolate and characterize TDSCs. A summary is represented in Table 1.

Table 1 Characterization of tooth- ‐derived stem cells. 

TDSCs Location Positive markers Negative markers Differentiation capacity
DPSCs Permanent CD29, CD44, CD 14, CD 34, Osteoblast, adipocyte,
tooth pulp CD73, CD90 CD 54 chondrocyte, hepatocyte,
CD 105, neuron, endothelial like
CD146, cells, smooth muscles
STRO- ‐1, Oct cells
¾, Sox2,
SHED Deciduous CD 29, CD CD 31, CD 34 Osteoblast, odontoblast,
tooth pulp 105, CD 146, adipocyte, neural cell
STRO- ‐1
SCAP Apical papilla CD 24, CD CD 14, CD 18, Osteoblast adipocyte
29, CD 31, CD 34, CD, chondrocyte, hepatocyte,
CD 44, CD 45, CD 150 neuron, odontoblasts
73, CD 90,
CD 105, CD
106, CD 146,
CD 166,
STRO1, Oct
¾, Sox- ‐2,
DFPCs Dental follicle CD 29, CD CD 14, CD 31, Osteoblast, adipocyte,
44, CD, 73, CD 34, CD 45, chondrocyte, hepatocyte,
CD 90, CD CD 117 neuron
105, nestin
PDLSCs Permanent CD 44, CD CD 14, CD 34, Osteoblast/cementoblast,
tooth 90, CD 105, CD45 adipocyte, neuron,
periodontal CD 166, CD choncrocytes,endothelial
ligament 146, STRO- ‐1, like cells
Oct ¾, Sox2,
DePDL Deciduous CD105, CD CD 34, CD 45 Osteoblast adipocyte,
tooth 166, STRO- ‐ cementoblast ,
periodontal Oct4 chondrocyte
GSCs Gingival tissue CD 90, CD CD34, CD 38, Osteoblast, choncrocyte,
105, CD 73, CD 45, CD 54 adipocyte
CD 44, CD 13

Note: CD: Cluster of differentiation; DePDL: Periodontal ligament of deciduous teeth stem cells; DFPCs: Dental follicle progenitor cells; DPSCs: Dental pulp stem cells; GSCs: Gingival stem cells; Oct: Octamer; PDLScs: Periodontal ligament stem cells; SCAP: Stem cells from apical papilla; SHED: Stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth; Sox2: SRY- ‐box containing gene 2.

Dental Pulp Stem Cells (DPSCs)

In 2000, Gronthos and collaborators were the pioneers on isolation and characterization of DPSC, the first TDSCs8. When compared with human bone marrows stem cells (BMSCs), DPSCs showed higher proliferation rate and greater capacity to form mineral nodules, so they are more appropriate for regeneration of mineralized tissues than BMSCs. They are able to differentiate into osteoblast, smooth muscle cells, adipocyte-like cells, neuron, dentin, dentin-pup-like complex and endothelial like cells8,29.

Stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth (SHED)

SHEDs are progenitor cells first isolated in 2003, from the remnant pulp of exfoliated deciduous teeth13. They showed a higher proliferative rate, when compared to BMSCs and DPSCs13,15, and a higher capability to differentiate in osteoblast and adipocyte-like cells when compared to DPSCs in vitro15. They also showed the capability do differentiate into odontoblast, neural cells15,30,.

Stem cells from apical papilla (SCAPs).

SCAPS are cells isolated from apical papilla located on the root apex of developing teeth31. It is distinct from the pulp tissue32. They presented a higher proliferation, migration and telomerase activity. They are able to differentiate into osteoblastic, odontoblastic, adopocyte - like and neuron-like cells under specific induction22. A cDNA microarray profiled comparative analysis between SCAP and DPSCs concluded that genes such as CD24 and survivin were highly expressed in SCAPS22.

Dental follicle progenitor cells (DFPCs)

DFPCs are cells obtained from dental follicle which is a condensation of cells originated from the ectomesenchyma that surrounds the tooth germ in early stages of tooth formation. It contains a heterogenic cell population that forms the periodontium18,33. They can differentiate into osteoblast, adipocyte, chondrocyte and neuronal cells, but they present differences on proliferation and mineralization patters which suggests that they could commit in distinct lineages33.

Periodontal ligament stem cells (PDLSCs)

PDLSCs are a heterogeneous cell population with neural crest cell origin. They have higher proliferation rate but forms less mineralized nodules when compared to BMSCs. They present the ability to differentiate into osteoblasts, cementoblasts, adipocytes, chondrocytes and endothelial like cells. In vivo experiments confirmed the ability to form periodontal ligament and cementum-like tissue34.

Decidous periodontal ligament cells (DePDL)

Periodontal ligament cells also can be isolated from decidous teeth. It showed higher proliferative rate than PDLSCs, and share the same ability of differentiate into osteoblasts, cementoblasts, adipocytes and chondrocytes, but with a higher potential to differentiate into adipocytes25.

Gingival tissue Stem cells (GSCs)

GSCs are obtained from gingival connective tissue, so the sample must be deepithelialized, to leave only connective tissue. They are able to differentiate into osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic lineages. It also present an immunemodulatory capacity28.

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)

iPS cells are derived from somatic cells via transduction and expression of selective transcripition factors. They can differentiate into all derivatives of the 3 primary germ layers35. They can be obtained from stem cells of apical papilla, dental pulp, exfoliated deciduous teeth stem cells, gingival, periodontal ligament and buccal mucosa fibroblast. They have the ability to differentiate into mesenchymal stem cells, neural crest-like cells, ameloblast-like cells, odontoblast-like cells and osteoprogenitor like cells. Although iPS cells are an option without any ethical concerns and it has a great potential towards regeneration of periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, cementum and dentin-pulp complex, issues like epigenetic memory, viral-transduction, tumorgenesis and teratoma formation has to be further investigated35.


Basic components for tissue engineering includes scaffolds, signal molecules and cells. Scaffolds are tridimensional structures, which mimics the extracellular matrix and must have physical, chemical and biological characteristics to provide a microenvironment for cell signaling activation, and stimulation of cellular growth, differentiation, cell adhesion and migration. The cells provide synthesis of extracellular matrix and tissue regeneration. MSCs presents important characteristics such as high proliferation rates and ability to differentiate into multilineages, therefore they have a great potential into tissue engineering field.

Increasing amount of research presents TDSCs applicability in diverse conditions, including myocardial infarction36, ischemic disease37, neural regeneration38, inflammatory diseases39, diabetes40, muscular dystrophy41, bone and cartilage defects42, hair follicle loss43, skin injuries44, salivary gland defects45, corneal reproduction46, and the regeneration of dental tissues12,22,35,47-49.

Several studies demonstrated that TDSCs have successfully regenerated dental tissues such as dentin, pulp and periodontal ligament12,22,47-49. In vivo experiments demonstrated that human PDLSCs and SCAP were able to generate periodontal ligament in minipigs22. Also DPSCs promoted complete pulp regeneration in dogs12. Combination of iPS cells with silk scalffold and enamel matrix promoted PDL regeneration in mouse periodontal fenestration defects35.

Although the literature confirms the potential of TDSCs in regeneration, there are some aspects that must be discussed. First, proliferation capacity, clonogeniticy and differentiation ability are different from each type of TDSCs lineages suggesting that it has an association with the type of original tissue. Even in the same population there are heterogeneous cell subpopulation with different behavior50. Notwithstanding that International Society for cell therapy defined a minimal phenotype criteria for MSCs, specific surface markers associated with TDSCs commitment are not established.


Interest in regeneration topic has increased inside scientific community. TDSCs are potential actors for regenerative procedures once they are an easy available source that presents almost no morbidity to the donor. Studies, which used TDSCs for regeneration, presented promising results. However, MSCs populations obtained from dental tissues are heterogeneous and, currently, there is no standard method to select the most appropriate TDSCs for regenerative procedures. Further studies must be designed to confirm TDSC-based therapies as safe, predictable and reproducible.


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Received: March 31, 2017; Revised: July 07, 2017; Accepted: July 11, 2017

Correspondência para / Correspondence to: BR AMORIM. E-mail: <>.


BR AMORIM, EA SALLUM, MZ CASATI, KGS RUIZ, RCV CASARIN, KR KANTOVITZ and FH NOCITI JUNIOR participated in all stages of the preparation of the manuscript.

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