Application of Stem Cells in Oral Disease Therapy: Progresses and Perspectives
This study aimed to investigate the potential of low-level laser irradiation (LLLI) to promote odontogenic differentiation and biomineralization by dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) seeded inside bioceramic scaffolds. Mg-based, Zn-doped bioceramic scaffolds, synthesized by the sol–gel technique, were spotted with DPSCs and exposed to LLLI at 660 nm with maximum output power of 140 mw at fluencies (a) 2 and 4 J/cm2 to evaluate cell viability/proliferation by the MTT assay and (b) 4 J/cm2 to evaluate cell differentiation, using real-time PCR (expression of odontogenic markers) and a p-nitrophenylphosphate (pNPP)-based assay for alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity measurement. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis were used for structural/chemical characterization of the regenerated tissues. Exposure of the DPSCs/scaffold complexes to the proposed LLLI scheme was associated with statistically significant increase of odontogenesis-related markers (bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2): 22.4-fold, dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP): 28.4-fold, Osterix: 18.5-fold, and Runt-related transcription factor 2 (Runx2): 3.4-fold). ALP activity was significantly increased at 3 and 7 days inside the irradiated compared to that in the non-irradiated SC/DPSC complexes, but gradually decreased until 14 days. Newly formed Ca-P tissue was formed on the SC/DPSC complexes after 28 days of culture that attained the characteristics of bioapatite. Overall, LLLI treatment proved to be beneficial for odontogenic differentiation and biomineralization of DPSCs inside the bioceramic scaffolds, making this therapeutic modality promising for targeted dentin engineering.