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Eur Cell Mater. 2019 Feb 26;37:175-185. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v037a11.

The effects of ageing on dental pulp stem cells, the tooth longevity elixir.

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Orofacial Development and Regeneration, Institute of Oral Biology, Centre for Dental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zurich, Plattenstrasse 11, 8032 Zurich,


Stem cells are essential for tissue homeostasis and regeneration throughout the lifespan of multicellular organisms. The decline in stem cell function during advanced age is associated with a reduced regenerative potential of tissues that leads to an increased frequency of diseases. Age-related changes also occur in the dental pulp that represents a reliable model tissue, with high regenerative capability, for studying senescence mechanisms. However, little information is available concerning the effects of ageing on dental stem-cell function. In this mini-review, recent data on how the molecular and functional alterations that accumulate in stem cell populations during ageing result in modifications of dental pulp physiology are discussed. Changes that accumulate during ageing such as how reduction of pulp chamber volume, decreased vascular supply and modifications to the stem cell niches affect stem cell functions and, therefore, dental pulp regenerative potential in response to various stressful agents. Dental pulp cells from aged individuals are still metabolically active and secrete pro-inflammatory and matrix-degrading molecules. Furthermore, miRNAs and exosomes derived from dental pulp stem cells constitute an attractive source of nanovesicles for the treatment of age-related dental pathologies. Further investigation of the epigenetic alterations in dental pulp stem cells, accumulating during ageing, might reveal crucial information for potential stem cell-based therapeutic approaches in the elderly.

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