Isolation and characterization of multipotent human periodontal ligament stem cells

Isabel C. Gay, Shuo Chen, Mary MacDougall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

339 Scopus citations


Backround: Periodontal ligament (PDL) repair is thought to involve mesenchymal progenitor cells capable of forming fibroblasts, osteoblasts and cementoblasts. However, full characterization of PDL stem cell (SC) populations has not been achieved. Objective: To isolate and characterize PDLSC and assess their capability to differentiate into bone, cartilage and adipose tissue. Methods: Human PDL cells were stained for STRO-1, FACS sorted and expanded in culture. Human bone marrow SC (BMSC) served as a positive control. PDLSC and BMSC were cultured using standard conditions conducive for osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic differentiation. Osteogenic induction was assayed using alizarine red S staining and expression of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and bone sialoprotein (BSP). Adipogenic induction was assayed using Oil Red O staining and the expression of PPARc 2 (early) and LPL (late) adipogenic markers. Chondrogenic induction was assayed by collagen type II expression and toluidine blue staining. Results: Human PDL tissue contains about 27% STRO-1 positive cells with 3% strongly positive. In osteogenic cultures ALP was observed by day-7 in BMSC and day-14 in PDLSC. BSP expression was detectable by day-7; with more intense staining in PDLSC cultures. In adipogenic cultures both cell populations showed positive Oil Red O staining by day-25 with PPARc 2 and LPL expression. By day-21, both BMSC and PDLSC chondrogenic induced cultures expressed collagen type II and glycosaminoglycans. Conclusions: The PDL contains SC that have the potential to differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes and adipocytes, comparable with previously characterized BMSC. This adult PDLSC population can be utilized for potential therapeutic procedures related to PDL regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-160
Number of pages12
JournalOrthodontics and Craniofacial Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


  • Adult stem cells
  • Gene expression
  • Periodontal ligament
  • Periodontal tissue engineering
  • STRO-1 antibody

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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