Plasticity of stem cells derived from adult periodontal ligament

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102 Scopus citations


Background: The neural crest contains pluripotent cells that can give rise to neurons and glial cells of the peripheral nervous system, endocrine cells, connective tissue cells, muscle cells and pigment cells during embryonic development. Stem cells derived from the neural crest may still reside in neural crest derivatives including the periodontal ligament (PDL). However, the pluripotency of PDL-derived stem cells has not been investigated. Aim: To identify subpopulations of stem cells from the adult PDL and study their pluripotency. Human PDLs were harvested from impacted wisdom teeth (patients aged 19-22 years). Results: This study demonstrated that subpopulations of PDL cells expressed embryonic stem cell markers (Oct4, Sox2, Nanog and Klf4) and a subset of neural crest markers (Nestin, Slug, p75 and Sox10). Such PDL cell subpopulations exhibited the potential to differentiate into neurogenic, cardiomyogenic, chondrogenic and osteogenic lineages. Furthermore, preliminary evidence suggesting insulin production of PDL cells might be indicative of the generation of cells of the endodermal lineage. Conclusion: These findings suggest that the PDL may contain pluripotent stem cells that originate from the neural crest. Our observations open the door to prospective autologous therapeutic applications for a variety of conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-821
Number of pages13
JournalRegenerative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Adult stem cells
  • Neural crest
  • Periodontal ligament
  • Pluripotent stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Embryology


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