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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Differentiation potential of STRO-1+ dental pulp stem cells changes during cell passaging

Jinhua Yu1*, Huixia He2, Chunbo Tang1, Guangdong Zhang1, Yuanfei Li3, Ruoning Wang4, Junnan Shi5 and Yan Jin5

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Stomatology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210029, China

2 Institute of Dental Research of Chinese PLA, General Hospital and Postgraduate Military Medical School, Beijing 100853, China

3 State Key Laboratory of Cancer Biology, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710032, China

4 Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030, USA

5 School of Stomatology, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710032, China

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BMC Cell Biology 2010, 11:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-11-32

Published: 8 May 2010

Abstract

Background

Dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) can be driven into odontoblast, osteoblast, and chondrocyte lineages in different inductive media. However, the differentiation potential of naive DPSCs after serial passaging in the routine culture system has not been fully elucidated.

Results

DPSCs were isolated from human/rat dental pulps by the magnetic activated cell sorting based on STRO-1 expression, cultured and passaged in the conventional culture media. The biological features of STRO-1+ DPSCs at the 1st and 9th passages were investigated. During the long-term passage, the proliferation ability of human STRO-1+ DPSCs was downregulated as indicated by the growth kinetics. When compared with STRO-1+ DPSCs at the 1st passage (DPSC-P1), the expression of mature osteoblast-specific genes/proteins (alkaline phosphatase, bone sialoprotein, osterix, and osteopontin), odontoblast-specific gene/protein (dentin sialophosphoprotein and dentin sialoprotein), and chondrocyte-specific gene/protein (type II collagen) was significantly upregulated in human STRO-1+ DPSCs at the 9th passage (DPSC-P9). Furthermore, human DPSC-P9 cells in the mineralization-inducing media presented higher levels of alkaline phosphatase at day 3 and day 7 respectively, and produced more mineralized matrix than DPSC-P9 cells at day 14. In vivo transplantation results showed that rat DPSC-P1 cell pellets developed into dentin, bone and cartilage structures respectively, while DPSC-P9 cells can only generate bone tissues.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that STRO-1+ DPSCs consist of several interrelated subpopulations which can spontaneously differentiate into odontoblasts, osteoblasts, and chondrocytes. The differentiation capacity of these DPSCs changes during cell passaging, and DPSCs at the 9th passage restrict their differentiation potential to the osteoblast lineage in vivo.