Dental Stem Cells for Understanding Equine Dental Problems – The Horse

By studying dental mesenchymal stem cells, researchers are learning how teeth respond to inflammation and damage. | Stocks

Mesenchymal stem cells from equine teeth provide insights into how equine teeth develop, grow and maintain a healthy, sealed pulp, German researchers report.

Although complex to isolate, mesenchymal stem cells in the soft tissue of equine teeth may improve regeneration of periodontal lesions, periodontal reattachment after dental implants, and other dental treatments that rely on soft tissue healing. But just as important, studying these mesenchymal stem cells may reveal the mechanisms behind the “lifelong eruption” of equine teeth, said Laura Beate Heilen of the Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, College of Veterinary Medicine. Embryology, University of Stuttgart Liebig.

Helen and her colleagues have been studying horse teeth for years and have always found their ability to regenerate to be “amazing,” she said.

Unlike human teeth, horse teeth never stop growing. This never-ending eruption requires healthy, constantly renewing periodontal ligaments (PDL), which anchor the teeth to the jawbone. At the same time, horses' teeth undergo a lifetime of occlusal wear, so there is always a risk that the dental pulp (which is located inside the tooth) will open. To avoid pulp exposure, sustained, high-level dentinogenesis is absolutely necessary.

Curious about the role of MSCs in this process, Heilen's team set out to explore where MSCs were located within the PDL and dental pulp, and whether it was possible to isolate them to study their qualities. This new search technique allows researchers to directly compare extracted cell populations.

They collected the heads of four horses ranging in age from 2.5 to 24 years old that had recently died from causes unrelated to the study. Through a slow, multi-step process of cutting, cleaning, dissecting, fixing, extracting and suspending, the researchers isolated MSCs from the pulp and PDL of horse incisors and retrobulbar adipose tissue for comparison.

The team then compared the microscopic characteristics of these mesenchymal stem cells and discovered their specific locations in these dental tissues.

Helen said they found that although the process was complicated, all the mesenchymal stem cells they isolated were viable. In addition, they found that these cells had “important characteristics” of MSCs, such as being spindle-shaped and having several important proteins on the cell membrane, especially CD90 and CD44, which can be used as biomarkers of MSCs.

In fact, somewhat surprisingly, cells in certain tissue layers appeared to consistently express CD90 on their surface, she added. This is important because the researchers had discovered CD90 in previous studies of rat teeth, but only after the teeth were regenerating after experimental cavity preparations in the lab. “This supports the hypothesis that the horse's dental pulp remains in a very productive and regenerative state throughout life,” she said.

Future Treatment Opportunities for Equine Dentistry MSC

These findings open the door to future research exploring the role of MSCs in equine tooth structure, Heilen said. We think mesenchymal stem cells derived from dental pulp will be particularly useful in learning more about regeneration and remodeling of equine teeth,” she said.

Additionally, isolating mesenchymal stem cells from equine teeth may help researchers test the effects of various treatments on the horse's ability to regenerate teeth. “For example, it might be useful to understand how dental pulp mesenchymal stem cells respond to different substances used as cleaning and filling materials in endodontic treatment,” Heilen said. “Are there substances that can stimulate the regeneration, proliferation or differentiation of cells in the soft tissue of the tooth (odontoblast-like cells, which can be damaged by inflammation)? Or are there substances used that may be harmful to the cells?

However, she added, the prospects for dental mesenchymal stem cells as a stem cell therapy are less promising. “The process of isolating living cells from horse teeth is very complex,” Helen said. “Furthermore, it is questionable whether the use of mesenchymal stem cells obtained from dental pulp is justified, since mesenchymal stem cells are found in many areas[of the body]that are more easily accessible.”

She added that it also seemed impossible to harvest mesenchymal stem cells from the teeth of living horses—without extracting the teeth. In order to extract suitable mesenchymal stem cells, the removed teeth must be healthy, which may raise ethical issues for live horses.

When the principles of how MSCs are activated to support endodontic and periodontal healing are understood, it may be possible to recruit native and/or viable MSCs rather than injecting exogenous MSCs.” Dental tissue damage is often caused by bacteria or mechanical stimuli Caused. This causes inflammation, which prompts the tooth to separate the affected portion by producing more odontoblasts; therefore, mesenchymal stem cells are needed to reduce inflammation and possibly replace damaged odontoblasts. Helen said the researchers encouraged further studies in the hope they would lead to concrete treatment recommendations.

The study “Isolation, culture and in situ identification of MSCs from equine dental pulp and periodontal ligament” was published in Frontiers of Veterinary Science March 2023.

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