, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 1-7
Date: 27 Jan 2011

Dental pulp stem cells in regenerative dentistry

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Abstract

Stem cells constitute the source of differentiated cells for the generation of tissues during development, and for regeneration of tissues that are diseased or injured postnatally. In recent years, stem cell research has grown exponentially owing to the recognition that stem cell-based therapies have the potential to improve the life of patients with conditions that span from Alzheimer’s disease to cardiac ischemia to bone or tooth loss. Growing evidence demonstrates that stem cells are primarily found in niches and that certain tissues contain more stem cells than others. Among these tissues, the dental pulp is considered a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells that are suitable for tissue engineering applications. It is known that dental pulp stem cells have the potential to differentiate into several cell types, including odontoblasts, neural progenitors, osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and adipocytes. The dental pulp stem cells are highly proliferative. This characteristic facilitates ex vivo expansion and enhances the translational potential of these cells. Notably, the dental pulp is arguably the most accessible source of postnatal stem cells. Collectively, the multipotency, high proliferation rates, and accessibility make the dental pulp an attractive source of mesenchymal stem cells for tissue regeneration. This review discusses fundamental concepts of stem cell biology and tissue engineering within the context of regenerative dentistry.