Int. J. Dev. Biol. 56: 737 - 746 (2012)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.120076hl
© UPV/EHU Press

Restoring physiological cell heterogeneity in the mesenchyme during tooth engineering

Laetitia-Véronique Keller1,2, Sabine Kuchler-Bopp1,2 and Hervé Lesot*,1,2

1INSERM UMR977 Biomatériaux et ingénierie Tissulaire, Strasbourg, France and 2Faculté de Chirurgie Dentaire, Université de Strasbourg, France

ABSTRACT Tooth development is controlled by reciprocal epithelial-mesenchymal interactions. Complete teeth can form when culturing and implanting re-associations between single embryonic dental epithelial and mesenchymal cells. Although epithelial histogenesis is clear, very little is known about cell diversity and patterning in the mesenchyme. The aim of this work was to compare the situation in engineered and developing teeth at similar developmental stages. To this end, the expression of cell surface markers in the mesenchyme was investigated by immunostaining in: 1) embryonic mouse molars at embryonic day 14, as the initial cell source for re-associations, 2) cultured cell re-associations just before their implantation and 3) cultured cell re-associations implanted for two weeks. Surface markers allowed visualization of the complex patterning of different cell types and the differential timing in their appearance. The phenotype of mesenchymal cells rapidly changed when they were grown as a monolayer, even without passage. This might explain the rapid loss of their potential to sustain tooth formation after re-association. Except for markers associated with vascularization, which is not maintained in vitro, the staining pattern in the mesenchyme of cultured re-associations was similar to that observed in situ. After implantation, vascularization and the cellular heterogeneity in the mesenchyme were similar to what was observed in developing molars. Besides tissue oxygenation and its role in mineralization of dental matrices, vascularization is involved in the progressive increase in mesenchymal cell heterogeneity, by allowing external cells to enter the mesenchyme.

Keywords:

tooth organ engineering, mesenchymal cell heterogeneity, vascularization, cell surface marker

*Corresponding author e-mail: lesot@unistra.fr