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Attenuated regenerative properties in human periodontal ligament–derived stem cells of older donor ages with shorter telomere length and lower SSEA4 expression


Periodontal ligament (PDL) stem cell properties are critical in the periodontal tissue regeneration for periodontitis. Previously, we have demonstrated that cigarette smoking attenuates PDL-derived stem cell (PDLSC) regenerative properties. Here, we report the findings on the regenerative properties of human PDLSCs with different donor ages and the underlying mechanisms. Human PDLSCs from 18 independent donors were divided into different age groups (≤ 20, 20–40, and > 40 years old). The proliferation of PDLSCs with donor age of ≤ 20 years old was significantly higher than that of the 20–40- and > 40-years-old groups, whereas the migration of PDLSCs with donor age of ≤ 20 and 20–40 years old was significantly higher than that of the > 40-years-old group. Moreover, the mesodermal lineage differentiation capabilities of PDLSCs were also higher in the donor age group of ≤ 20 years old than the donor age of > 40 years old. In addition, shorter telomere length and lower expression of SSEA4 were found in PDLSCs with donor age of > 40 years old, compared with those with donor age of ≤ 20-years-old group. Besides, PDLSCs with donor age of 20–40 and > 40 years old had higher IL6 and CXCL8 gene expressions. In summary, results from this study revealed the attenuated proliferation, migration, and mesodermal lineage differentiation properties in human PDLSCs with older donor ages. Donor age of PDLSCs should be considered as the selection criteria for the periodontal tissue regeneration treatment.

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This work was supported in part by the Special Fund for the Innovative Science and Technology Strategy of Guangdong Province (project code 180918154960752 to T.K.N.), an internal grant from the Joint Shantou International Eye Center of Shantou University and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (18-001 to T.K.N.), and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (project code 2016A030313063 to Y.H.), China.

Author information

C.B.C., C.X., and Y.X. mainly performed the experiments. L.H. and J.J.L. helped with the experiments. X.Y. recruited study subjects. T.K.N., Y.H., H.S.C., and C.P.P. supervised the project. T.K.N., C.B.C., and C.P.P. interpreted the results and wrote the manuscript.

Correspondence to Tsz Kin Ng or Yuqiang Huang.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Written informed consents were obtained from all donors or their legally authorized representatives.

Ethical approval

This study protocol was approved by the Human Ethics Committee of Shantou University Medical College (EC20100927(5)-P06), which is in accordance with the tenets of the Helsinki Declaration.

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Ng, T.K., Chen, C., Xu, C. et al. Attenuated regenerative properties in human periodontal ligament–derived stem cells of older donor ages with shorter telomere length and lower SSEA4 expression. Cell Tissue Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-020-03176-y

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  • Human periodontal ligament–derived stem cells
  • Age effect
  • Regenerative properties
  • Telomere
  • SSEA4