MATERIALS AND METHODS: The differentiation of fibroblast-like cells from SHED was carried out by using specific human recombinant connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). To characterize fibroblastic differentiation, the induced cells were subjected to morphological changes, proliferation rate, gene expression analysis using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), flow cytometry, and immunofluorescence staining. The commercial primary human gingival fibroblasts served as positive control in this study.
RESULTS: The results from characterization analysis were compared with that of commercial cells to ensure that the cells differentiated from SHED were fibroblast-like cells. The results showed the inductive effect of CTGF for fibroblastic differentiation in SHED. SHED-derived fibroblasts were successfully characterized despite having similar morphological appearance, i.e., (i) significant proliferation rate between fibroblast-like cells and SHED, (ii) high expression of fibroblast-associated markers in qRT-PCR analysis, and (iii) positive staining against collagen type 1, fibroblast-specific protein 1, and human thymic fibroblasts in flow cytometry analysis and immunofluorescence staining. The same expression patterns were found in primary human gingival fibroblasts, respectively. SHED as negative control showed lower expression or no signal, thus confirming the cells differentiated from SHED were fibroblast-like cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, the protocol adopted in this study suggests CTGF to be an appropriate inducer in the differentiation of SHED into fibroblast-like cells.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The fibroblast-like cells differentiated from SHED could be used in future in vitro and in vivo dental tissue regeneration studies as well as in clinical applications where these cells are needed.
OBJECTIVE: This paper highlights the similarities and differences among these cell subpopulations, particularly between intraoral fibroblasts (human periodontal ligament, gingival and oral mucosa fibroblasts) and dermal fibroblasts based on several factors including their morphology, growth and proliferation rate.
RESULTS: It could be suggested that each subpopulation of fibroblasts demonstrate different positionspecified gene signatures and responses towards extracellular signals. These dissimilarities are crucial to be taken into consideration to employ specific methodologies in stimulating these cells in vivo.
CONCLUSION: A comparison of the characteristics of these cell subpopulations is desired for identifying appropriate cellular applications.