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Am J Pathol. 2000 Jul;157(1):287-95.

Nestin expression in embryonic and adult human teeth under normal and pathological conditions.

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Laboratoire Interface Matrice Extracellulaire Biomatériaux, Equipe d'Acceuil 2198, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France.


Nestin is an intermediate filament most related to neurofilaments and expressed predominantly in the developing nervous system and muscles. In the present study we examined the in vivo distribution of nestin in human teeth during embryonic development and in permanent teeth under normal and pathological conditions. The results show that nestin is first expressed at the bell stage and that its distribution is restricted in pulpal cells located at the cusp area of the fetal teeth. In young permanent teeth, nestin is found only in functional odontoblasts, which produce the hard tissue matrix of dentin. Expression is progressively down-regulated and nestin is absent from older permanent teeth. In carious and injured teeth, nestin expression is up-regulated in a selective manner in odontoblasts surrounding the injury site, showing a link between tissue repair competence and nestin up-regulation under pathological conditions. In an in vitro assay system of human dental pulp explants, nestin is up-regulated after local application of bone morphogenic protein-4. A similar effect is seen in cultures of primary pulp cells during their differentiation into odontoblasts. Taken together, these results suggest that nestin plays a potential role in odontoblast differentiation during normal and pathological conditions and that bone morphogenic protein-4 is involved in nestin up-regulation.

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