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J Clin Periodontol. 2004 Mar;31(3):184-92.

Hertwig's epithelial root sheath, enamel matrix proteins, and initiation of cementogenesis in porcine teeth.

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Department of Periodontology and Fixed Prosthodontics, School of Dental Medicine, University of Berne, Berne, Switzerland.



The aim of this study was to analyze the association between Hertwig's epithelial root sheath (HERS) cells, enamel matrix proteins (EMPs), and cementogenesis.


Porcine teeth were examined at the beginning of root formation by light and transmission electron microscopy. Colloidal gold immunocytochemistry was used to analyze the protein expression of amelogenin and ameloblastin.


Before and during disintegration of HERS, its cells displayed the cytologic features of protein synthesis and secretion. While some cells assumed an ameloblast-like phenotype, others extended their territory away from the root surface. A collagenous matrix filled the widening intercellular spaces, and tonofilaments and desmosomes were still present in cells featuring the morphologic characteristics of cementoblasts. Labeling for amelogenin was observed but ameloblastin was not immunodetected. Labeling was associated with organic matrix deposits that were sporadically and randomly distributed both along the root surface and away from it among the dissipated epithelial cells.


These findings suggest that HERS' cells occasionally assume a lingering ameloblastic activity at the beginning of root formation in the pig. While the results do not support the hypothesis of a causal relationship between EMPs and cementogenesis, they lend support to the concept of an epithelial origin of cementoblasts.

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