Scaffold-free prevascularized microtissue spheroids for pulp regeneration

W. L. Dissanayaka, L. Zhu, K. M. Hargreaves, L. Jin, C. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Creating an optimal microenvironment that mimics the extracellular matrix (ECM) of natural pulp and securing an adequate blood supply for the survival of cell transplants are major hurdles that need to be overcome in dental pulp regeneration. However, many currently available scaffolds fail to mimic essential functions of natural ECM. The present study investigated a novel approach involving the use of scaffold-free microtissue spheroids of dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) prevascularized by human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in pulp regeneration. In vitro-fabricated microtissue spheroids were inserted into the canal space of tooth-root slices and were implanted subcutaneously into immunodeficient mice. Histological examination revealed that, after four-week implantation, tooth-root slices containing microtissue spheroids resulted in well-vascularized and cellular pulp-like tissues, compared with empty tooth-root slices, which were filled with only subcutaneous fat tissue. Immunohistochemical staining indicated that the tissue found in the tooth-root slices was of human origin, as characterized by the expression of human mitochondria, and contained odontoblast-like cells organized along the dentin, as assessed by immunostaining for nestin and dentin sialoprotein (DSP). Vascular structures formed by HUVECs in vitro were successfully anastomosed with the host vasculature upon transplantation in vivo, as shown by immunostaining for human CD31. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that prevascularized, scaffold-free, microtissue spheroids can successfully regenerate vascular dental pulp-like tissue and also highlight the significance of the microtissue microenvironment as an optimal environment for successful pulp-regeneration strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1296-1303
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 25 2014


  • angiogenesis
  • endodontics
  • extracellular matrix
  • regenerative medicine
  • stem cells
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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