Oral and Craniofacial Stem Cells: An Untapped Source for Neural Tissue Regeneration

Milos Marinkovic, Nicholas F. Dybdal-Hargreaves, Travis J. Block, David D. Dean, Chih Ko Yeh, Xiao Dong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Nerve tissue regeneration continues to represent an intractable obstacle to realizing the promise of tissue engineering. Although neurobiology works to shed light on the mechanisms governing neuronal growth and repair, considerable technical gaps remain that hinder progress. Chief among these is the absence of an appropriate culture environment to faithfully reproduce the neuronal niche ex vivo. We propose that the various multipotent cells found in the oral cavity may represent an important yet underutilized resource for preparing such neurogenic microenvironments. Similar to those of nerve tissue, these cell populations are of ectodermal origin and have clinically demonstrated neurogenic potential. Although there is a lack of consensus on whether putative types of oral and craniofacial stem cells constitute distinct populations, their contribution to neural tissue engineering may be twofold: as a cellular feedstock for neoneurogenesis and for the production of specialized in vitro environments for neurogenic differentiation, phenotype maintenance, and use in therapeutic applications. We propose that addressing gaps in understanding the neurogenic role of dental stem cells and their microenvironment may yield efficient and reliable strategies for long-term neuronal cell culture and open new avenues for neural regeneration in both dental, nerve, and other tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-938
Number of pages4
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • dental stem cells
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • neurogenesis
  • neuronal niche
  • regenerative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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