Mesenchymal Cell Community Effect in Whole Tooth Bioengineering

Liu Yang, A Angelova Volponi, Y Pang, P T Sharpe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
524 Downloads (Pure)


In vitro expanded cell populations can contribute to bioengineered tooth formation but only as cells that respond to tooth-inductive signals. Since the success of whole tooth bioengineering is predicated on the availability of large numbers of cells, in vitro cell expansion of tooth-inducing cell populations is an essential requirement for further development of this approach. We set out to investigate if the failure of cultured mesenchyme cells to form bioengineered teeth might be rescued by the presence of uncultured cells. To test this, we deployed a cell-mixing approach to evaluate the contributions of cell populations to bioengineered tooth formation. Using genetically labeled cells, we are able to identify the formation of tooth pulp cells and odontoblasts in bioengineered teeth. We show that although cultured embryonic dental mesenchyme cells are unable to induce tooth formation, they can contribute to tooth induction and formation if combined with noncultured cells. Moreover, we show that teeth can form from cell mixtures that include embryonic cells and populations of postnatal dental pulp cells; however, these cells are unable to contribute to the formation of pulp cells or odontoblasts, and at ratios of 1:1, they inhibit tooth formation. These results indicate that although in vitro cell expansion of embryonic tooth mesenchymal cells renders them unable to induce tooth formation, they do not lose their ability to contribute to tooth formation and differentiate into odontoblasts. Postnatal pulp cells, however, lose all tooth-inducing and tooth-forming capacity following in vitro expansion, and at ratios >1:3 postnatal:embryonic cells, they inhibit the ability of embryonic dental mesenchyme cells to induce tooth formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-191
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • in vitro expansion
  • mixed cell recombination
  • odontogenic capacity
  • postnatal dental pulp cells
  • root formation
  • tooth inducing cells


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