Differentiation of dental pulp stem cells into neuron-like cells

Int J Neurosci. 2020 Feb;130(2):107-116. doi: 10.1080/00207454.2019.1664518. Epub 2019 Oct 10.


Background and objectives: With regard to their ease of harvest and common developmental origin, dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) may act as a favorable source of stem cells in generation of nerves. Moreover; cellular migration and differentiation as well as survival, self-renewal, and proliferation of neuroprogenitor species require the presence of the central nervous system (CNS) mitogens including EGF and bFGF. Accordingly, the possibility of the induction of neuronal differentiation of DPSCs by EGF and bFGF was evaluated in the present study.Materials and methods: DPSCs were treated with 20 ng/ml EGF, 20 ng/ml bFGF, and 10 µg/ml heparin. In order to further induce the neuroprogenitor differentiation, DPSC-derived spheres were also incubated in serum-free media for three days. The resulting spheres were then cultured in high-glucose Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM) with 10% FBS. The morphology of the cells and the expression of the differentiation markers were correspondingly analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), western blotting, and immunofluorescence (IF).Results: The EGF/bFGF-treated DPSCs showed significant increase in the expression of the neuroprogenitor markers of Nestin and SRY (sex determining region Y)-box 2 (SOX2), 72 h after treatment. The up-regulation of Nestin and SOX2 induced by growth factors was confirmed using western blotting and IF. The cultures also yielded some neuron-like cells with a significant rise in Nestin, microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), and Neurogenin 1 (Ngn1) transcript levels; compared with cells maintained in the control media (p < 0.05).Conclusion: DPSCs seemed to potentially differentiate into neuron-like cells under the herein-mentioned treatment conditions.

Keywords: Dental pulp stem cells; differentiation; neural regeneration.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytological Techniques
  • Dental Pulp / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / physiology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*