Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting almost half of the adult US population. Gingiva is an integral part of the periodontium and has recently been identified as a source of adult gingiva-derived mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs). Given the prevalence of periodontitis, the purpose of this study is to evaluate differences between GMSCs derived from healthy and diseased gingival tissues and explore their potential in bone engineering. Primary clonal cell lines were established from harvested healthy and diseased gingival and characterized for expression of known stem-cell markers and multi-lineage differentiation potential. Finally, they were cultured on electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds and evaluated for attachment, proliferation, and differentiation. Flow cytometry demonstrated cells isolated from healthy and diseased gingiva met the criteria defining mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). However, GMSCs from diseased tissue showed decreased colony-forming unit efficiency, decreased alkaline phosphatase activity, weaker osteoblast mineralization, and greater propensity to differentiate into adipocytes than their healthy counterparts. When cultured on electrospun PCL scaffolds, GMSCs from both sources showed robust attachment and proliferation over a 7-day period; they exhibited high mineralization as well as strong expression of alkaline phosphatase. Our results show preservation of 'stemness' and osteogenic potential of GMSC even in the presence of disease, opening up the possibility of using routinely discarded, diseased gingival tissue as an alternate source of adult MSCs.
Keywords: alizarin red; alkaline phosphatase; bone tissue engineering; electrospinning; gingiva; mesenchymal stem cells; osteogenesis; scaffolds.