The role of growth factors in tooth development

Int Rev Cytol. 2002;217:93-135. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(02)17013-6.


Growth factors and other paracrine signal molecules regulate communication between cells in all developing organs. During tooth morphogenesis, molecules in several conserved signal families mediate interactions both between and within the epithelial and mesenchymal tissue layers. The same molecules are used repeatedly during advancing development, and several growth factors are coexpressed in epithelial signaling centers. The enamel knots are signaling centers that regulate the patterning of teeth and are associated with foldings of the epithelial sheet. Different signaling pathways form networks and are integrated at many levels. Many targets of the growth factors have been identified, and mutations in several genes within the signaling networks cause defective tooth formation in both humans and mice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Dental Enamel / physiology
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tooth / metabolism*
  • Tooth / physiology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Growth Substances
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors