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Stem cells produce compact, regenerated bone in mandible transplants

Durham, NC (PRWEB) March 15, 2013

Bone transplantation is a major strategy for the repair of bone defects. However, reconstruction of the mandible (jawbone) has long been a difficult challenge for oral surgeons — at least up to now. A new study in the latest issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine shows how stem cells can be used to successfully repair the mandible after a molar extraction and, years later, the new bone is still functioning properly.

Interestingly, the regenerated bone is also hard, rather than the spongy kind normally found in the jaw.

The new study is a follow-up to previous investigations by an international team of researchers in which they discovered that mesenchymal stem cells taken from dental pulp and seeded on a collagen scaffold successfully repaired the mandible bone. In this latest work, they checked on patients who had received the mandible bone grafts three years earlier to assess the stability and quality of the regenerated bone and vessel network.

They found the new bone had normal function and was richly vascularized, although was much more compact than the spongy type normally found in the mandible. The team theorized that, most probably, regeneration of compact bone occurs because grafted dental-pulp stem cells do not follow the local signals of the surrounding spongy bone.

“The mandible is constructed from spongey bone on account of its role linked to the presence of teeth and their movements, so regeneration of a compact, rather than a spongy bone type, is difficult to justify physiologically. We concluded, therefore, that grafted dental pulp stem cells do not pursue the local environmental signals emanating from the alveolar bone surrounding the graft site,” said Gianpaolo Papaccio, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Experimental Medicine at Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy. He led the study team that included colleagues from Second University as well as researchers from Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy; Université CB, Lyon; European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France; and the University of Michigan in the United States.

“This must be taken into consideration when grafting stem cells,” Dr. Papaccio continued. “Their behavior may be quite variable and, consequently, their differentiation fate in some cases may be affected more by their specific origin than by the local signals of the treated area.

“Although the bone regenerated at the graft sites is not of the proper type found in the mandible,” he added, “it does seem to have a positive clinical impact. In fact, it creates steadier mandibles, may well increase implant stability and, additionally, may improve resistance to mechanical, physical, chemical and pharmacological agents.”

“Dental pulp is an interesting source of ready-to-use stem cells to treat bone defects,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., Editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “The finding that these cells regenerate compact bone in the mandible indicates a potential role in the treatment of oral cancer.”


The full article, “Three years after transplants in human mandibles, histological and in-line HT revealed that stem cells regenerated a compact rather than a spongy bone: biological and clinical implications,” 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® (, in its 31st 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 18th 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.

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