The dental follicle (DF) differentiates into the periodontal ligament. In addition, it may be the precursor of other cells of the periodontium, including osteoblasts and cementoblasts. We hypothesized that stem cells may be present in the DF and be capable of differentiating into cells of the periodontium. Stem cells were identified in the DF of the rat first mandibular molar by Hoechst staining, alkaline phosphatase staining, and expression of side-population stem cell markers. These cells were shown to be able to differentiate into osteoblasts/cementoblasts, adipocytes, and neurons. Treating the DF cell population with doxorubicin, followed by incubation in an adipogenesis medium, suggested that the adipocytes originated from stem cells. Thus, a possibly puripotent stem cell population is present in the rat DF.
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