Background: The ideal goal of clinical therapy in periodontal defects is regeneration of all lost structures. For regeneration to occur, cell proliferation, migration, and extracellular matrix synthesis are prerequisites. Attempts at regeneration of periodontal defects by guided tissue regeneration using bone grafts and membranes have not always yielded predictable results. Recently, attempts at engineering the defects using various materials have shown promising results. Two such approaches have been used to regenerate periodontal defects, one using extracellular matrix such as enamel matrix proteins and the other using growth factors. However, to our knowledge, no study has looked at combining these two approaches to achieve potentially even greater regeneration. Methods: Primary human periodontal ligament (PDL) fibroblasts were explanted, and alkaline phosphatase (ALK PHOS) activity was determined. Phenotypically different cell lines were incubated for 1, 3, 6, and 10 days in 0.2% fetal bovine serum (FBS) media containing different concentrations of either enamel matrix derivative (EMD), amelogenin, platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB), EMD + PDGF-BB, or amelogenin + PDGF-BB. A culture of 0.2% FBS alone served as a negative control, and a culture of 10% FBS served as a positive control. Cell proliferation was measured using a Coulter counter to determine the cell number. The effects on a wound-fill model were evaluated by scraping a 3-mm wide cell-free zone in PDL monolayers across the diameter of the tissue-culture plate and determining PDL cell migration into the cell-free zone using computer assisted histomorphometry. Results: Compared to the control, only EMD + PDGF-BB significantly increased PDL cell proliferation in an ALK PHOS (-) cell line (P<0.001), and EMD alone, EMD + PDGF-BB, and amelogenin + PDGF-BB significantly increased PDL cell proliferation in an ALK PHOS (+) cell line (P<0.001) with EMD + PDGF-BB showing a trend for greater proliferation than either PDGF or EMD alone. Individually, EMD and amelogenin had no significant effect on PDL cell proliferation. In the wound-fill experiment, all factors and their combinations except amelogenin significantly enhanced cell migration compared to the control (P<0.05) at the wound edge. In addition, EMD + PDGF-BB had additive effects on the ALK PHOS (-) cell line at the wound edge. At the center of the wound, neither EMD nor amelogenin had a significant wound-fill effect. However, the combination of EMD + PDGF-BB additively increased wound fill for both ALK PHOS (+) and ALK PHOS (-) cells. Conclusions: The combination of EMD and PDGF-BB produces greater proliferative and wound-fill effects on PDL cells than each by themselves. If these combined effects can be translated clinically, one may see greater regeneration in periodontal defects with this combination. However, amelogenin does not have significant effects on PDL cell proliferation or migration by itself. This may suggest that either another enamel matrix component in EMD may be responsible for some of its clinical effects, or that amelogenin alone may not trigger the regenerative potential of periodontal tissues and that it requires a combined interaction with other enamel matrix components of EMD to direct the regenerative process.
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