In vitro assessment of a collagen/alginate composite scaffold for regenerative endodontics

Int Endod J. 2017 Jan;50(1):48-57. doi: 10.1111/iej.12591. Epub 2016 Jan 27.


Aim: To develop a biological scaffold that could be moulded to reproduce the geometry of a gutta-percha point with precision and allow the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts to be used as a regenerative endodontic material.

Methodology: A collagen/alginate composite scaffold was cast into a sodium alginate mould to produce a gutta-percha point-like cone. Prior to gelation, the cone was seeded with human stem cells from the apical papilla (SCAPs) to evaluate cell/scaffold interactions. The reconstructed tissue was characterized after 8 days in culture. Elastic modulus, tissue compaction and cell differentiation were assessed. Student t-tests and the Mann-Whitney U test were performed.

Results: The fabrication method developed enabled the shape of a gutta-percha point to be mimicked with great accuracy and reproducibility (P = 0.31). Stem cells seeded into this composite scaffold were able to spread, survive and proliferate (P < 0.001). Moreover, they were able to differentiate into osteoblasts and produce calcified osseous extracellular matrix (P < 0.001). The construct showed no significant contraction after 8 days, preserving its shape and tip diameter (P = 0.58).

Conclusions: The composite scaffold could present substantial benefits compared to synthetic materials. It could provide a favourable healing environment in the root canal conducive for regenerative endodontics and is therefore appropriate to be evaluated in vivo in further studies.

Keywords: adult stem cells; cell differentiation; endodontics; hydrogel; regenerative medicine; tissue engineering.

MeSH terms

  • Alginates / pharmacology*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Collagen / pharmacology*
  • Glucuronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Gutta-Percha
  • Hexuronic Acids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Osteoblasts / cytology*
  • Regeneration
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*


  • Alginates
  • Hexuronic Acids
  • Glucuronic Acid
  • Gutta-Percha
  • Collagen