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Differentiation. 2008 May;76(5):495-505. Epub 2007 Dec 17.

Multipotent cells from the human third molar: feasibility of cell-based therapy for liver disease.

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Research Institute for Cell Engineering (RICE), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), 3-11-46 Nakoji, Amagasaki, Hyogo 661-0974, Japan.


Adult stem cells have been reported to exist in various tissues. The isolation of high-quality human stem cells that can be used for regeneration of fatal deseases from accessible resources is an important advance in stem cell research. In the present study, we identified a novel stem cell, which we named tooth germ progenitor cells (TGPCs), from discarded third molar, commonly called as wisdom teeth. We demonstrated the characterization and distinctiveness of the TGPCs, and found that TGPCs showed high proliferation activity and capability to differentiate in vitro into cells of three germ layers including osteoblasts, neural cells, and hepatocytes. TGPCs were examined by the transplantation into a carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-treated liver injured rat to determine whether this novel cell source might be useful for cell-based therapy to treat liver diseases. The successful engraftment of the TGPCs was demonstrated by PKH26 fluorescence in the recipient's rat as to liver at 4 weeks after transplantation. The TGPCs prevented the progression of liver fibrosis in the liver of CCl4-treated rats and contributed to the restoration of liver function, as assessed by the measurement of hepatic serum markers aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase. Furthermore, the liver functions, observed by the levels of serum bilirubin and albumin, appeared to be improved following transplantation of TGPCs. These findings suggest that multipotent TGPCs are one of the candidates for cell-based therapy to treat liver diseases and offer unprecedented opportunities for developing therapies in treating tissue repair and regeneration.

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