In this study, we characterized the self-renewal capability, multi-lineage differentiation capacity, and clonogenic efficiency of human dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs). DPSCs were capable of forming ectopic dentin and associated pulp tissue in vivo. Stromal-like cells were reestablished in culture from primary DPSC transplants and retransplanted into immunocompromised mice to generate a dentin-pulp-like tissue, demonstrating their self-renewal capability. DPSCs were also found to be capable of differentiating into adipocytes and neural-like cells. The odontogenic potential of 12 individual single-colony-derived DPSC strains was determined. Two-thirds of the single-colony-derived DPSC strains generated abundant ectopic dentin in vivo, while only a limited amount of dentin was detected in the remaining one-third. These results indicate that single-colony-derived DPSC strains differ from each other with respect to their rate of odontogenesis. Taken together, these results demonstrate that DPSCs possess stem-cell-like qualities, including self-renewal capability and multi-lineage differentiation.
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