Tissue engineering. Part A

Coculture of stem cells from apical papilla and human umbilical vein endothelial cell under hypoxia increases the formation of three-dimensional vessel-like structures in vitro.

PMID 25380198


The success of bioengineered dental pulp depends on two principles, (1) whether the transplanted tissue can develop its own vascular endothelial tubule network and (2) whether the host vasculature can be induced to penetrate the bioengineered pulp replacement and conjoin. Major inductive molecules that participate in laying down blood vessels include vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), ephrinB2, and hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α). Being able to modulate the genes encoding these angiogenic molecules is a therapeutic target in pulp regeneration for endogenous blood vessel formation, prevention of graft rejection, and exclusion of infection. Once implanted inside the root canal, bioengineered pulp is subjected to severe hypoxia that causes tissue degeneration. However, short-term hypoxia is known to stimulate angiogenesis. Thus, it may be feasible to prime dental cells for angiogenic activity before implantation. Stem cells from apical papilla (SCAP) are arguably one of the most potent and versatile dental stem cell populations for bioengineering pulp in vitro. Our study aimed to investigate whether coculture of SCAP and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) under hypoxia promotes the formation of endothelial tubules and a blood vessel network. In addition, we clarified the interplay between the genes that orchestrate these important angiogenic molecules in SCAP under hypoxic conditions. We found that SCAP cocultured with HUVEC at a 1:5 ratio increased the number of endothelial tubules, tubule lengths, and branching points. Fluorescence staining showed that HUVEC formed the trunk of tubular structures, whereas SCAP located adjacent to the endothelial cell line, resembling the pericyte location. When we used CoCl2 (0.5 mM) to induce hypoxic environment, the expression of proteins, HIF-1α and VEGF, and transcript of ephrinB2 in SCAP was upregulated. However, minimal VEGF levels in supernatants of HUVEC and coculture Petri dishes were detected, suggesting that VEGF secreted by SCAP might be used by HUVEC to accelerate the formation of vessel-like structures. Taken together, we revealed that artificial hypoxia stimulates angiogenic responses in SCAP for possible use in engineering dental pulp replacements. Our results may help to delineate the optimal therapeutic target to promote angiogenesis so that future bioengineered pulp replacements integrate faster and permanently within the host.