Introduction: This study compared the stemness and differentiation potential of stem cells derived from the apical complex (apical complex cells [ACCs]) and coronal pulp (dental pulp stem cells [DPSCs]) of human immature permanent teeth with the aim of determining a more suitable source of stem cells for regeneration of the dentin-pulp complex. Methods: ACC and DPSC cultures were established from 13 human immature permanent teeth using the outgrowth method. The proliferation capacity and colony-forming ability of ACCs and DPSCs were evaluated. ACCs and DPSCs were analyzed for mesenchymal stem cell markers using flow cytometry. The adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation potential of ACCs and DPSCs were evaluated using the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and histochemical staining. ACCs and DPSCs were transplanted subcutaneously in immunocompromised mice using macroporous biphasic calcium phosphate as a carrier. The histomorphologic characteristics of the newly formed tissues were verified using hematoxylin-eosin staining and immunohistochemical staining. Quantitative alkaline phosphatase analysis and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction using BSP, DSPP, POSTN, and Col XII were performed. Results: ACCs and DPSCs showed similar cell proliferation potential and colony-forming ability. The percentage of mesenchymal stem cell markers was similar between ACCs and DPSCs. In the in vitro study, ACCs and DPSCs showed adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation potential. In the in vivo study, ACCs and DPSCs formed amorphous hard tissue using macroporous biphasic calcium phosphate particles. The quantity and histomorphologic characteristics of the amorphous hard tissue were similar in the ACC and DPSC groups. Formation of periodontal ligament–like tissue, positive to Col XII, was observed in ACC transplants, which was absent in DPSC transplants. Conclusions: ACCs and DPSCs showed similar stemness, proliferation rate, and hard tissue–forming capacity. The notable difference was the periodontal ligament–like fiber-forming capacity of ACCs, which indicates the presence of various lineages of stem cells in the apical complex compared with the coronal pulp. Regarding regeneration of the dentin-pulp complex, the coronal pulp can be a suitable source of stem cells considering its homogenous lineages of cells and favorable osteo/odontogenic differentiation potential.
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