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J Endod. 2007 Aug;33(8):908-16. Epub 2007 Apr 2.

Proliferation of epithelial cell rests, formation of apical cysts, and regression of apical cysts after periapical wound healing.

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  • 1Department of Endodontics, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, New York 10010, USA.


There is continuing controversy regarding the potential for inflammatory apical cysts to heal after nonsurgical endodontic therapy. Molecular cell biology may provide answers to a series of related questions. How are the epithelial cell rests of Malassez stimulated to proliferate? How are the apical cysts formed? How does the lining epithelium of apical cysts regress after endodontic therapy? Epithelial cell rests are induced to divide and proliferate by inflammatory mediators, proinflammatory cytokines, and growth factors released from host cells during periradicular inflammation. Quiescent epithelial cell rests can behave like restricted-potential stem cells if stimulated to proliferate. Formation of apical cysts is most likely caused by the merging of proliferating epithelial strands from all directions to form a three-dimensional ball mass. After endodontic therapy, epithelial cells in epithelial strands of periapical granulomas and the lining epithelium of apical cysts may stop proliferating because of a reduction in inflammatory mediators, proinflammatory cytokines, and growth factors. Epithelial cells will also regress because of activation of apoptosis or programmed cell death through deprivation of survival factors or by receiving death signals during periapical wound healing.

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