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J Dent Res. 2015 Dec;94(12):1773-81. doi: 10.1177/0022034515600380. Epub 2015 Aug 18.

Ex Vivo Modeling of Multidomain Peptide Hydrogels with Intact Dental Pulp.

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Department of Chemistry, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.
Department of Chemistry, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA Department of Bioengineering, Rice University Houston, TX, USA.
School of Dentistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
School of Dentistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA


Preservation of a vital dental pulp is a central goal of restorative dentistry. Currently, there is significant interest in the development of tissue engineering scaffolds that can serve as biocompatible and bioactive pulp-capping materials, driving dentin bridge formation without causing cytotoxic effects. Our earlier in vitro studies described the biocompatibility of multidomain peptide (MDP) hydrogel scaffolds with dental pulp-derived cells but were limited in their ability to model contact with intact 3-dimensional pulp tissues. Here, we utilize an established ex vivo mandible organ culture model to model these complex interactions. MDP hydrogel scaffolds were injected either at the interface of the odontoblasts and the dentin or into the pulp core of mandible slices and subsequently cultured for up to 10 d. Histology reveals minimal disruption of tissue architecture adjacent to MDP scaffolds injected into the pulp core or odontoblast space. Additionally, the odontoblast layer is structurally preserved in apposition to the MDP scaffold, despite being separated from the dentin. Alizarin red staining suggests mineralization at the periphery of MDP scaffolds injected into the odontoblast space. Immunohistochemistry reveals deposition of dentin sialophosphoprotein by odontoblasts into the adjacent MDP hydrogel, indicating continued functionality. In contrast, no mineralization or dentin sialophosphoprotein deposition is evident around MDP scaffolds injected into the pulp core. Collagen III expression is seen in apposition to gels at all experimental time points. Matrix metalloproteinase 2 expression is observed associated with centrally injected MDP scaffolds at early time points, indicating proteolytic digestion of scaffolds. Thus, MDP scaffolds delivered centrally and peripherally within whole dental pulp tissue are shown to be biocompatible, preserving local tissue architecture. Additionally, odontoblast function and pulp vitality are sustained when MDP scaffolds are intercalated between dentin and the odontoblast region, a finding that has significant implications when considering these materials as pulp-capping agents.


biocompatibility; dentin; endodontics; extracellular matrix (ECM); regeneration; tissue engineering

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