Dental stem cells and their potential role in apexogenesis and apexification
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Injury to an immature permanent tooth may result in cessation of dentine deposition and root maturation leaving an open root apex and thin dentinal walls that are prone to fracture. Endodontic treatment is often complicated and protracted with an uncertain prognosis frequently resulting in premature tooth loss. Postnatal stem cells, which are capable of self-renewal, proliferation and differentiation into multiple specialized cell lineages have been isolated and identified within the dental pulp, apical papilla and periodontal ligament. The ability of these cells to produce pulp-dentine and cementum-periodontal ligament complexes in vivo suggest potential applications involving stem cells, growth factors and scaffolds for apexification or apexogenesis. Similar protein expression amongst dental stem cells possibly implicates a common origin; however, the dominant cells to repopulate an open apex will be directed by local environmental cues. A greater understanding of the structure and function of cells within their environment is necessary to regulate and facilitate cellular differentiation along a certain developmental path with subsequent tissue regeneration. This review focuses on development of the apical tissues, dental stem cells and their possible involvement clinically in closing the open root apex. MEDLINE and EMBASE computer databases were searched up to January 2009. Abstracts of all potentially relevant articles were scanned and their contents identified before retrieval of full articles. A manual search of article reference lists as well as a forward search on selected authors of these articles was undertaken. It appears that dental stem cells have the potential for continued cell division and regeneration to replace dental tissues lost through trauma or disease. Clinical applications using these cells for apexogenesis and apexification will be dependent on a greater understanding of the environment at the immature root end and what stimulates dental stem cells to begin dividing and then express a certain phenotype.
International Endodontic Journal
Dentistry not elsewhere classified