Dental epithelial progenitor cells differentiate into various cell types during development of tooth germs. To study this mechanism, we produced immortalized dental epithelial progenitor cells derived from the cervical-loop epithelium of a rat lower incisor. The expression patterns of cytokeratin 14, nerve growth factor receptor p75, amelogenin, Notch2, and alkaline phosphatase were examined by immnohistochemistry in both lower and higher cell densities. The patterns of each were compared in the dental epithelium of rat lower incisors. The results demonstrated that these cells could produce ameloblast lineage cells, stratum intermedium cells, stellate reticulum, and outer enamel epithelium. Furthermore, fibroblast growth factor 10 stimulated proliferation of dental progenitor cells and subsequently increased the number of cells expressing alkaline phosphatase. These results suggest that fibroblast growth factor 10 plays a role in coupling mitogenesis of the cervical-loop cells and the production of stratum intermedium cells in rat incisors.
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