1. Department of Dentistry, Gyeongsang National University School of Medicine and Institute of Health Science, Jinju, Republic of Korea;
2. Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Changwon Gyeongsang National University Hospital, Changwon, Republic of Korea;
3. Department of Theriogenology and Biotechnology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Research Institute of Life Science, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, Republic of Korea;
4. Department of Dental Technology, Jinju Health College, Jinju, Republic of Korea.
We previously described a novel tissue cryopreservation protocol to enable the safe preservation of various autologous stem cell sources. The present study characterized the stem cells derived from long-term cryopreserved dental pulp tissues (hDPSCs-cryo) and analyzed their differentiation into definitive endoderm (DE) and hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) in vitro. Human dental pulp tissues from extracted wisdom teeth were cryopreserved as per a slow freezing tissue cryopreservation protocol for at least a year. Characteristics of hDPSCs-cryo were compared to those of stem cells from fresh dental pulps (hDPSCs-fresh). hDPSCs-cryo were differentiated into DE cells in vitro with Activin A as per the Wnt3a protocol for 6 days. These cells were further differentiated into HLCs in the presence of growth factors until day 30. hDPSCs-fresh and hDPSCs-cryo displayed similar cell growth morphology, cell proliferation rates, and mesenchymal stem cell character. During differentiation into DE and HLCs in vitro, the cells flattened and became polygonal in shape, and finally adopted a hepatocyte-like shape. The differentiated DE cells at day 6 and HLCs at day 30 displayed significantly increased DE- and hepatocyte-specific markers at the mRNA and protein level, respectively. In addition, the differentiated HLCs showed detoxification and glycogen storage capacities, indicating they could share multiple functions with real hepatocytes. These data conclusively show that hPDSCs-cryo derived from long-term cryopreserved dental pulp tissues can be successfully differentiated into DE and functional hepatocytes in vitro. Thus, preservation of dental tissues could provide a valuable source of autologous stem cells for tissue engineering.
Keywords: dental pulp, mesenchymal stem cells, cryopreservation, definitive endoderm, hepatocyte.