Wisdom Teeth Stem Cells Could Treat Corneal Scarring
Published: 2015-02-23 - Updated: 2020-10-06
Author: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences - Contact: Anita Srikameswaran - SrikamAV@upmc.edu
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Synopsis: Stem cells from dental pulp of wisdom teeth could be used to repair corneal scarring due to infection or injury. There are three main types of stem cells: adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells and induced-pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs. Wisdom teeth generally appear between ages 17 to 25. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, but it is possible to have fewer or more, in which case the extras are called supernumerary teeth.
Stem cells from the dental pulp of wisdom teeth can be coaxed to turn into cells of the eye's cornea and could one day be used to repair corneal scarring due to infection or injury, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online today in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, indicate they also could become a new source of corneal transplant tissue made from the patient's own cells.
A wisdom tooth, or third molar, is one of the three molars per quadrant of the human dentition. It is the most posterior (most distal) of the three. Wisdom teeth generally appear between the ages of 17 and 25. Most adults have four wisdom teeth (a third molar in each of the four quadrants), but it is possible to have fewer or more, in which case the extras are called supernumerary teeth. Wisdom teeth commonly affect other teeth as they develop, becoming impacted or "coming in sideways." They are often extracted when this occurs.
Corneal blindness, which affects millions of people worldwide, is typically treated with transplants of donor corneas, said senior investigator James Funderburgh, Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology at Pitt and associate director of the Louis J. Fox Center for Vision Restoration of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, a joint program of UPMC Eye Center and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
"Shortages of donor corneas and rejection of donor tissue do occur, which can result in permanent vision loss," Dr. Funderburgh said. "Our work is promising because using the patient's own cells for treatment could help us avoid these problems."
Experiments conducted by lead author Fatima Syed-Picard, Ph.D., also of Pitt's Department of Ophthalmology, and the team showed that stem cells of the dental pulp, obtained from routine human third molar, or wisdom tooth, extractions performed at Pitt's School of Dental Medicine, could be turned into corneal stromal cells called keratocytes, which have the same embryonic origin.
The team injected the engineered keratocytes into the corneas of healthy mice, where they integrated without signs of rejection. They also used the cells to develop constructs of corneal stroma akin to natural tissue.
"Other research has shown that dental pulp stem cells can be used to make neural, bone and other cells," Dr. Syed-Picard noted. "They have great potential for use in regenerative therapies."
In future work, the researchers will assess whether the technique can correct corneal scarring in an animal model.
Co-authors include Yiqin Du, M.D., Ph.D., Kira L. Lathrop, M.A.M.S., Mary M. Mann, M.S., and Martha L. Funderburgh, M.S.P.H., all of the University of Pittsburgh. The project was funded National Institutes of Health grants EY016415, EY009368 and EY008098; Research to Prevent Blindness; and the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh.
Stem Cell Facts
There are three main types of stem cells: adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells and induced-pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs.
- Stem cells are unspecialized cells.
- Stem cells can proliferate or self-renew, which means they are capable of replenishing themselves for long periods of time by dividing.
- Stem cells can differentiate into specialized cells such as a nerve or heart cell.
- Totipotent stem cells: Can differentiate into any type of cell in the human body, including the placenta.
- Pluripotent stem cells: Descend from totipotent stem cells and after several days, can differentiate into any type of cell except for totipotent stem cells.
- Multipotent stem cells: Descend from pluripotent stem cells and can differentiate into many cell lines within a specific type of tissue.
- Uni-potent stem cells: This type of stem cells is a descendant of a multipotent stem cell and can give rise to a single cell type.
- Embryonic stem cells: Are extracted from embryos and are thought to hold the most potential, because these cells can give rise to virtually any specialized cell in the human body.
- Adult stem cells: Are present in adult tissues such as the bone marrow, brain and blood but are limited in potential relative to embryonic stem cells.
- Cord blood stem cells: This source of stem cells is derived from cord blood and is thought to hold enormous potential in treating disease.
This quality-reviewed article relating to our Regenerative Medicine section was selected for publishing by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Wisdom Teeth Stem Cells Could Treat Corneal Scarring" was originally written by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, and published by Disabled-World.com on 2015-02-23 (Updated: 2020-10-06). Should you require further information or clarification, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences can be contacted at Anita Srikameswaran - SrikamAV@upmc.edu. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
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