Dental stem cells may help restore breast tissue

By Abraham Kim, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

November 4, 2019 -- Stem cells of the teeth can develop into milk-producing cells when placed into mammary glands of mice, according to a study published on October 22 in the journal Cells.

The potential of dental epithelial stem cells to facilitate tooth repair has drawn considerable interest from the dental community in recent years. However, the ability of these stem cells to promote cell growth in nondental tissues is less understood.

In the current study, researchers from Switzerland and Japan injected epithelial dental stem cells and mammary epithelial cells into the mammary glands of mice. Genetic, molecular, and imaging analysis revealed that the transplanted dental stem cells contributed to mammary gland regeneration and even the production of milk-producing cells.

The researchers subsequently injected just dental stem cells into the mammary glands and found that they were still able to form ductal systems without the presence of mammary epithelial cells. These findings demonstrate the potential of dental stem cells to bolster postsurgery tissue regeneration in breast cancer patients, according to the authors.

Histological section of a mouse mammary gland generated from dental stem cells (green) containing milk-specific protein casein (red)
Histological section of a mouse mammary gland generated from dental stem cells (green) containing milk-specific protein casein (red). Image courtesy of the University of Zurich Institute of Oral Biology.

"Our discovery that dental epithelial stem cells are able to replace cells from the mammary gland opens up new paths for developing stem cell-based therapies that could be used for breast regeneration in the future," stated study co-author Thimios Mitsiadis, DDS, PhD, of the University of Zurich, in a university news release.


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