Formation of spheroids by dental pulp cells in the presence of hypoxia and hypoxia mimetic agents

Int Endod J. 2018 Feb;51 Suppl 2:e146-e156. doi: 10.1111/iej.12806. Epub 2017 Aug 12.


Aim: To evaluate the impact of hypoxia and hypoxia mimetic agents (HMA) on the formation and activity of spheroids by dental pulp cells (DPC).

Methodology: DPC on agarose-coated plates were treated with hypoxia and the HMA dimethyloxallyl glycine (DMOG), desferrioxamine (DFO) and L-mimosine (L-MIM). Images of spheroids were taken directly after seeding and at 6 h and 24 h. Spheroid sizes were quantified by area measurement with ImageJ software. Viability was assessed with Live-Dead staining, MTT and resazurin-based toxicity assay. Production of VEGF, IL-8 and SDF-1 was evaluated using immunoassays. Data were analysed using Kruskal-Wallis test and post hoc Mann-Whitney U-test.

Results: DPC formed spheroids in the presence of hypoxia, HMA and combined treatment with hypoxia and HMA. No pronounced difference in spheroid size was found in the groups treated with hypoxia, DMOG, DFO, L-MIM and the combination of hypoxia and the HMA relative to their normoxic controls (P > 0.05). Spheroids appeared vital in Live-Dead and MTT staining and the resazurin-based toxicity assay. Evaluation of protein production with immunoassays revealed significantly enhanced levels of VEGF and IL-8 (P < 0.05), but there was no significant effect on SDF-1 production (P > 0.05). Treatment with a combination of hypoxia and HMA did not further boost VEGF and IL-8 production (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: Pre-conditioning with hypoxia and HMA increased the pro-angiogenic capacity of spheroids whilst not interfering with their formation. Pre-clinical studies will reveal whether pre-conditioning of spheroids with hypoxia and HMA can effectively improve the efficiency of cell transplantation approaches for regenerative endodontics.

Keywords: 3D culture; HIF-1; PHD inhibitors; dental pulp; hypoxia; in vitro; microtissues; regenerative endodontics; spheroid; tissue engineering.

MeSH terms

  • Chemokine CXCL12 / metabolism
  • Deferoxamine / pharmacology
  • Dental Pulp / cytology*
  • Dental Pulp / drug effects
  • Dental Pulp / physiology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Mimosine / pharmacology
  • Spheroids, Cellular / cytology*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / drug effects
  • Spheroids, Cellular / physiology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Interleukin-8
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • dimethyloxallyl glycine
  • Mimosine
  • Deferoxamine
  • Glycine