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J Periodontal Res. 2012 Feb;47(1):81-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0765.2011.01407.x. Epub 2011 Aug 21.

Hepatocyte growth factor stimulates root growth during the development of mouse molar teeth.

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Division of Orthodontics, Department of Developmental Oral Health Science, Iwate Medical University, Morioka, Iwate, Japan.



It is well known that tooth root formation is initiated by the development of Hertwig's epithelial root sheath (HERS). However, relatively little is known about the regulatory mechanisms involved in root development. As hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is one of the mediators of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in rodent tooth, the objective of this study was to examine the effects of HGF on the root development of mouse molars.


The HERS of mouse molars and HERS01a, a cell line originated from HERS, were used in this study. For detection of HGF receptors in vivo and in vitro, we used immunochemical procedures. Root development was assessed by implanting molar tooth germs along with HGF-soaked beads into kidney capsules, by counting cell numbers in HERS01a cell cultures and by performing a 5'-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) assay in an organ-culture system.


HGF receptors were expressed in the enamel epithelium of molar germs as well as in HERS cells. HGF stimulated root development in the transplanted tooth germs, the proliferation of HERS01a cells in culture and HERS elongation in the organ-culture system. Examination using BrdU revealed that cell proliferation in HERS was increased by treatment with HGF, especially that in the outer layer of HERS. This effect was down-regulated when antibody against HGF receptor was present in the culture medium.


Our results raise the possibility that HGF signaling controls root formation via the development of HERS. This study is the first to show that HGF is one of the stimulators of root development.

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