Stem cells for tooth engineering

G Bluteau, H U Luder, C De Bari, T A Mitsiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


Tooth development results from sequential and reciprocal interactions between the oral epithelium and the underlying neural crest-derived mesenchyme. The generation of dental structures and/or entire teeth in the laboratory depends upon the manipulation of stem cells and requires a synergy of all cellular and molecular events that finally lead to the formation of tooth-specific hard tissues, dentin and enamel. Although mesenchymal stem cells from different origins have been extensively studied in their capacity to form dentin in vitro, information is not yet available concerning the use of epithelial stem cells. The odontogenic potential resides in the oral epithelium and thus epithelial stem cells are necessary for both the initiation of tooth formation and enamel matrix production. This review focuses on the different sources of stem cells that have been used for making teeth in vitro and their relative efficiency. Embryonic, post-natal or even adult stem cells were assessed and proved to possess an enormous regenerative potential, but their application in dental practice is still problematic and limited due to various parameters that are not yet under control such as the high risk of rejection, cell behaviour, long tooth eruption period, appropriate crown morphology and suitable colour. Nevertheless, the development of biological approaches for dental reconstruction using stem cells is promising and remains one of the greatest challenges in the dental field for the years to come.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Cells & Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2008


  • animals
  • bone regeneration
  • enamel organ
  • epithelial cells
  • guided tissue regeneration
  • humans
  • odontoblasts
  • reconstructive surgical procedures
  • stem cells
  • tissue engineering
  • tooth
  • odontogenic epithelial-cells
  • human periodontal-ligament
  • dental follicle cells
  • bone-marrow
  • in-vivo
  • synovial-membrane
  • progenitor cells
  • gene-expression
  • pulp
  • mouse


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