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Acta Histochem. 2009;111(1):15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.acthis.2008.02.005. Epub 2008 Jun 12.

Nitric oxide production during the osteogenic differentiation of human periodontal ligament mesenchymal stem cells.

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Dipartimento di Patologia Molecolare e Terapie Innovative-Istologia, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Via Tronto 10/A, 60020 Ancona, Italy.


The critical tissues that require regeneration in the periodontium are of mesenchymal origin; therefore, the ability to identify, characterize and manipulate mesenchymal stem cells within the periodontium is of considerable clinical significance. In particular, recent findings suggest that periodontal ligament cells may possess many osteoblast-like properties. In the present study, periodontal ligament mesenchymal stem cells obtained from healthy volunteers were maintained in culture until confluence and then induced to osteogenic differentiation. Intracellular calcium ([Ca2+](i)) concentration and nitric oxide, important signalling molecules in the bone, were measured along with cell differentiation. Alkaline phosphatase activity was assayed and bone nodule-like structures were evaluated by means of morphological and histochemical analysis. Our results showed that the periodontal ligament mesenchymal stem cells underwent an in vitro osteogenic differentiation, resulting in the appearance of active osteoblast-like cells together with the formation of calcified deposits. Differentiating cells were also characterized by an increase of [Ca2+](i) and nitric oxide production. In conclusion, our data show a link between nitric oxide and the osteogenic differentiation of human periodontal ligament mesenchymal stem cells, thus suggesting that local reimplantation of expanded cells in conjugation with a nitric oxide donor could represent a promising method for treatment of periodontal defects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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