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Stem Cells in Tooth Development, Growth, Repair, and Regeneration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187–212
JournalCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology
Accepted/In press1 Oct 2015

King's Authors


Human teeth contain stem cells in all their mesenchymal-derived tissues, which include the pulp, periodontal ligament, and developing roots, in addition to the support tissues such as the alveolar bone. The precise roles of these cells remain poorly understood and most likely involve tissue repair mechanisms but their relative ease of harvesting makes teeth a valuable potential source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for therapeutic use. These dental MSC populations all appear to have the same developmental origins, being derived from cranial neural crest cells, a population of embryonic stem cells with multipotential properties. In rodents, the incisor teeth grow continuously throughout life, a feature that requires populations of continuously active mesenchymal and epithelial stem cells. The discrete locations of these stem cells in the incisor have rendered them amenable for study and much is being learnt about the general properties of these stem cells for the incisor as a model system. The incisor MSCs appear to be a heterogeneous population consisting of cells from different neural crest-derived tissues. The epithelial stem cells can be traced directly back in development to a Sox10+ population present at the time of tooth initiation. In this review, we describe the basic biology of dental stem cells, their functions, and potential clinical uses.

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