The periodontal ligament (PDL) plays an important role in anchoring teeth in the bone socket. Damage to the PDL, such as after severe inflammation, can be treated with a therapeutic strategy that uses stem cells derived from PDL tissue (PDLSCs), a strategy that has received intense scrutiny over the past decade. However, there is an insufficient number of PDLSCs within the PDL for treating such damage. Therefore, we sought to induce the differentiation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into PDLSCs as an initial step toward PDL therapy. To this end, we first induced iPS cells into neural crest (NC)-like cells. We then captured the p75 neurotrophic receptor-positive cells (iPS-NC cells) and cultured them on an extracellular matrix (ECM) produced by human PDL cells (iPS-NC-PDL cells). These iPS-NC-PDL cells showed reduced expression of embryonic stem cell and NC cell markers as compared with iPS and iPS-NC cells, and enrichment of mesenchymal stem cell markers. The cells also had a higher proliferative capacity, multipotency, and elevated expression of PDL-related markers than iPS-NC cells cultured on fibronectin and laminin (iPS-NC-FL cells) or ECM produced by human skin fibroblast cells (iPS-NC-SF cells). Overall, we present a culture method to produce high number of PDLSC-like cells from iPS cells as a first step toward a strategy for PDL regeneration.
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