Neurotrophic Proteins in Dentin and Their Effect on Trigeminal Sensory Neurons

Matthias Widbiller, Obadah Austah, Sophia R. Lindner, Jenny Sun, Anibal Diogenes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: A plethora of bioactive molecules present during tooth formation become sequestered in the mineralized dentin matrix and can be released into the pulp tissue after demineralization from carious lesions. However, neurotrophic factors are differentially expressed and secreted during various stages of odontogenesis. Thus, the aims of this study were (1)to investigate their presence and relative abundance in crown and root dentin and (2)to evaluate the bioactivity of dentin-derived proteins on neuronal cells. Methods: Dentin matrix proteins (DMPs)were isolated from matched roots and crowns of extracted healthy human third molars. The total protein amount as well as the concentration of growth factors and neurotrophic proteins were quantified. The impact on neuritogenesis was determined with mouse trigeminal neurons in vitro and by a hydrogel implant model in vivo. Transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1)sensitization of DMP-conditioned neurons was evaluated by single-cell calcium imaging. Results: The relative concentration of neurotrophic molecules revealed that nerve growth factor is the most abundant neurotrophin with 3-fold increased expression in radicular dentin. Similarly, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin 3 are more abundant in radicular than coronal dentin. Conversely, glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor is more abundant in coronal dentin, whereas neurotrophin 4 is equally distributed. Dentin matrix proteins promoted neurite outgrowth in vitro and axonal targeting in vivo, with a greater effect observed by radicular dentin extracts. Furthermore, DMPs sensitized TRPV1 responses in mouse trigeminal neurons with greater activity seen with extracts from root dentin. Conclusions: Neurotrophic factors are differentially distributed between coronal and radicular dentin with different effects of dentin-derived proteins on axonal growth and targeting as well as the sensitization of TRPV1. Thus, extracellular proteins from the dentin matrix are likely involved in neurogenic responses to caries and could be exploited in clinical regenerative endodontics to promote reinnervation and enhance tissue regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-735
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of endodontics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Dentin
  • neuronal outgrowth
  • neurotrophins
  • regeneration
  • sensitization
  • trigeminal nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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