Study shows how growth factor aids stem cells’ ability to regenerate damaged teeth

Durham, NC – In a new study published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, researchers used a type of platelet-derived growth factor called PDGF-BB that enhances cells’ ability to regenerate dentin-pulp complex.

Many in the medical community view stem cell therapy as a promising new strategy for repairing teeth once thought to be irreversibly damaged by tooth decay or dental injuries. The benefits of human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs), isolated from the living connective tissue in the tooth’s center, on such damage have been well documented in studies.

However, previous studies also revealed several problems with this type of treatment, including limitations on how much mineralized tissue can be formed when scaffolds with hDPSCs alone were implanted in nude mice. More importantly, the narrow root canal of a tooth limits tissue infiltration and the revascularization process, which also worked against the implanted hDPSCs.

Researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of Medicine have found what they believe is a way to overcome these limitations. They showed that when scaffolds containing engineered cells were implanted in mice for 12 weeks, the group of mice treated using scaffolds seeded with PDGF-BB cells, a well-known potent mitogenic, angiogenic, and chemoattractive agent that has been widely used in tissue regeneration,  outperformed the other groups when it came to generating more dentin-like mineralized tissue that showed positive staining for the DSPP protein — similar to tooth dentin tissue — and was surrounded by highly vascularized, dental pulp-like connective tissue.

“Our study also showed that PDGF-BB has many other beneficial effects, too, including significantly increasing the proliferation of the hDPSCs,” said Xinquan Jiang, DDS, Ph.D., who led the study along with Wenjie Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

“Our data demonstrated that the PDGF-BB possesses a powerful function in prompting stem cell-based dentin-pulp tissue regeneration. We believe these findings represent an important step toward the optimal application of PDGF-BB for improving hDPSCs-mediated, dentin-pulp complex regeneration,” Dr. Zhang said.

Maolin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., mainly performed this research under the guidance of Drs. Jiang and Zhang. “PDGF-BB, as a safe and multipotent growth factor, has been widely used in periodontal tissue regeneration and showed reliable clinical effects. Our research shows the potential value of PDGF-BB on dentin-pulp tissue regeneration,” he said. “In the next step we will think about the clinical application of PDGF-BB on dentin-pulp tissue regeneration in treating dental pulp disease.”

“This research suggests an optimized strategy for using regenerative medicine as an alternative to conventional root canal therapy,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.”


The full article, “The effects of PDGF-BB on human dental pulp stem cells mediated dentin-pulp complex regeneration,” can be accessed at

About STEM CELLS Translational Medicine: STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (SCTM), published by AlphaMed Press, is a monthly peer-reviewed publication dedicated to significantly advancing the clinical utilization of stem cell molecular and cellular biology. By bridging stem cell research and clinical trials, SCTM will help move applications of these critical investigations closer to accepted best practices.

About AlphaMed Press: Established in 1983, AlphaMed Press with offices in Durham, NC, San Francisco, CA, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, publishes two other internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals: STEM CELLS® (, celebrating its 35th year, is the world’s first journal devoted to this fast paced field of research.  The Oncologist® (, also a monthly peer-reviewed publication, entering its 22nd year, is devoted to community and hospital-based oncologists and physicians entrusted with cancer patient care. All three journals are premier periodicals with globally recognized editorial boards dedicated to advancing knowledge and education in their focused disciplines.

About Wiley: Wiley, a global company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions, help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company’s website can be accessed at