Stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth (SHED) are isolated from the dental pulp tissue of primary teeth and can differentiate into neuronal cells. Although SHED are a desirable type of stem cells for transplantation therapy and for the study of neurological diseases, a large part of the neuronal differentiation machinery of SHED remains unclear. Recent studies have suggested that mitochondrial activity is involved in the differentiation of stem cells. In the present work, we investigated the neuronal differentiation machinery of SHED by focusing on mitochondrial activity. During neuronal differentiation of SHED, we observed increased mitochondrial membrane potential, increased mitochondrial DNA, and elongated mitochondria. Furthermore, to examine the demand for mitochondrial activity in neuronal differentiation, we then differentiated SHED into neuronal cells in the presence of rotenone, an inhibitor of mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I, and carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazone (CCCP), a mitochondrial uncoupler, and found that neuronal differentiation was inhibited by treatment with rotenone and CCCP. These results indicated that increased mitochondrial activity was crucial for the neuronal differentiation of SHED.
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