Human dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs), which have the ability to differentiate into multiple lineages, were recently identified. DPSCs can be collected readily from extracted teeth and are now considered to be a type of mesenchymal stem cell with higher clonogenic and proliferative potential than bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs). Meanwhile, the treatment of severe bone defects, such as fractures, cancers, and congenital abnormalities, remains a great challenge, and novel bone regenerative techniques are highly anticipated. Several studies have previously shown that 4-(4-methoxyphenyl)pyrido[40,30:4,5]thieno[2,3-b]pyridine-2-carboxamide (TH), a helioxanthin derivative, induces osteogenic differentiation of preosteoblastic and mesenchymal cells. However, the osteogenic differentiation activities of TH have only been confirmed in some mouse cell lines. Therefore, in this study, toward the clinical use of TH in humans, we analyzed the effect of TH on the osteogenic differentiation of DPSCs, and the in-vivo osteogenesis ability of TH-induced DPSCs, taking advantage of the simple transplantation system using cell-sheet technology.
DPSCs were obtained from dental pulp of the wisdom teeth of five healthy patients (18-22 years old) and cultured in regular medium and osteogenic medium with or without TH. To evaluate osteogenesis of TH-induced DPSCs in vivo, we transplanted DPSC sheets into mouse calvaria defects.
We demonstrated that osteogenic conditions with TH induce the osteogenic differentiation of DPSCs more efficiently than those without TH and those with bone morphogenetic protein-2. However, regular medium with TH did not induce the osteogenic differentiation of DPSCs. TH induced osteogenesis in both DPSCs and BMSCs, although the gene expression pattern in DPSCs differed from that in BMSCs up to 14 days after induction with TH. Furthermore, we succeeded in bone regeneration in vivo using DPSC sheets with TH treatment, without using any scaffolds or growth factors.
Our results demonstrate that TH-induced DPSCs are a useful cell source for bone regenerative medicine, and the transplantation of DPSC sheets treated with TH is a convenient scaffold-free method of bone healing.