Tissue engineering strategies to reconstruct tooth roots are an effective therapy for the treatment of tooth loss. However, strategies to successfully regenerate tooth roots have not been developed and optimized. In the present study, rat dental follicle stem cells (DFCs) were characterized, followed by a thorough investigation of tooth roots regeneration for a combination of DFCs seeding cells, treated dentin matrix (TDM) scaffolds, and an inductive alveolar fossa microenvironment. Eighteen clones derived from single DFCs were harvested; however, only three clones were amplified successfully more than five passages and 90-95 days in culture. Following 270 days or 30 passages, the heterogeneous DFCs showed suitable characteristics for seeding cells to regenerate tooth roots. However, various features, such as variable proliferation rates, differentiation characteristics, apoptosis rates, and total lifespan were observed in DFCs and the three clones. Importantly, upon transplantation of DFCs combined with TDM for four weeks, root-like tissues stained positive for markers of dental pulp and periodontal tissues were regenerated in the alveolar fossa, but not in the skull and omental pockets. These results indicate that tooth roots were successfully regenerated and suggest that the combination of DFCs with TDM in the alveolar fossa is a feasible strategy for tooth roots regeneration. This strategy could be a promising approach for the treatment of clinical tooth loss and provides a perspective with potential applications to regeneration of other tissues and organs.
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