The American journal of pathology

Adipose tissue-derived stem cell in vitro differentiation in a three-dimensional dental bud structure.

PMID 21514442


Tooth morphogenesis requires sequential and reciprocal interactions between the cranial neural crest-derived mesenchymal cells and the stomadial epithelium, which regulate tooth morphogenesis and differentiation. We show how mesenchyme-derived single stem cell populations can be induced to transdifferentiate in vitro in a structure similar to a dental bud. The presence of stem cells in the adipose tissue has been previously reported. We incubated primary cultures of human adipose tissue-derived stem cells in a dental-inducing medium and cultured the aggregates in three-dimensional conditions. Four weeks later, cells formed a three-dimensional organized structure similar to a dental bud. Expression of dental tissue-related markers was tested assaying lineage-specific mRNA and proteins by RT-PCR, immunoblot, IHC, and physical-chemical analysis. In the induction medium, cells were positive for ameloblastic and odontoblastic markers as both mRNAs and proteins. Also, cells expressed epithelial, mesenchymal, and basement membrane markers with a positional relationship similar to the physiologic dental morphogenesis. Physical-chemical analysis revealed 200-nm and 50-nm oriented hydroxyapatite crystals as displayed in vivo by enamel and dentin, respectively. In conclusion, we show that adipose tissue-derived stem cells in vitro can transdifferentiate to produce a specific three-dimensional organization and phenotype resembling a dental bud even in the absence of structural matrix or scaffold to guide the developmental process.