Dental pulp stem cells stimulate neuronal differentiation of PC-12 cells

Nessma Sultan Mohamed Abd Elhamed, Ben Scheven

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Dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) secrete neurotrophic factors which may play an important therapeutic role in neural development, maintenance and repair. To test this hypothesis, DPSCs-conditioned medium (DPSCs-CM) was collected from 72 hours serum-free DPSCs cultures. The impact of DPSCs-derived factors on PC12 survival, growth, migration and differentiation was investigated. PC12 cells were treated with nerve growth factor (NGF), DPSCs-CM or co-cultured with DPSCs using Transwell inserts for 8 days. The number of surviving cells with neurite outgrowths and the length of neurites were measured by image analysis. Immunocytochemical staining was used to evaluate the expression of neuronal markers NeuN, microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP-2) and cytoskeletal marker βIII-tubulin. Gene expression levels of axonal growth-associated protein 43 and synaptic protein Synapsin-I, NeuN, MAP-2 and βIII-tubulin were analysed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). DPSCs-CM was analysed for the neurotrophic factors (NGF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF], neurotrophin-3, and glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor [GDNF]) by specific ELISAs. Specific neutralizing antibodies against the detected neurotrophic factors were used to study their exact role on PC12 neuronal survival and neurite outgrowth extension. DPSCs-CM significantly promoted cell survival and induced the neurite outgrowth confirmed by NeuN, MAP-2 and βIII-tubulin immunostaining. Furthermore, DPSCs-CM was significantly more effective in stimulating PC12 neurite outgrowths than live DPSCs/PC12 co-cultures over the time studied. The morphology of induced PC12 cells in DPSCs-CM was similar to NGF positive controls; however, DPSCs-CM stimulation of cell survival was significantly higher than what was seen in NGF-treated cultures. The number of surviving PC12 cells treated with DPSCs-CM was markedly reduced by the addition of anti-GDNF, whilst PC12 neurite outgrowth was significantly attenuated by anti-NGF, anti-GDNF and anti-BDNF antibodies. These findings demonstrated that DPSCs were able to promote PC12 survival and differentiation. DPSCs-derived NGF, BDNF and GDNF were involved in the stimulatory action on neurite outgrowth, whereas GDNF also had a significant role in promoting PC12 survival. DPSCs-derived factors may be harnessed as a cell-free therapy for peripheral nerve repair. All experiments were conducted on dead animals that were not sacrificed for the purpose of the study. All the methods were carried out in accordance with Birmingham University guidelines and regulations and the ethical approval is not needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1821-1828
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Issue number9
Early online date25 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jan 2021


  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • conditioned medium
  • dental pulp stem cell
  • glial cell line-derived nerve growth factor
  • neurite outgrowth
  • neurotrophic factor
  • neurotrophin-3
  • phaeochromocytoma PC12 cell


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