The tooth is one of the ectodermal organs controlled by reciprocal interactions between the epithelium and the mesenchyme. Mesenchymal cells in the developing tooth, so-called dental mesenchymal cells, are derived from two different origins: the cranial neural crest (CNC) and the non-CNC. These CNC-derived cells migrate, proliferate and differentiate into odontoblasts, cementoblasts, fibroblasts, osteoblasts and chondroblasts. Tooth germs of wild-type mice were transplanted into the kidney of adult lacZ-transgenic mice. After 1 week of transplantation, a few lacZ-expressing cells and many red blood cells were found near or inside the blood vessels in the pulp of wild-type tooth germs. This result shows that circulating cells of the adult host could invade the dental pulp during tooth development, through the blood vessels, and be a part of dental pulp tissue. Therefore, it can be suggested that these circulating progenitor cells could be the origin of non-CNC-derived cells in tooth germ and their migration pathways would be the blood vessels invading the dental pulp during tooth development. If variations of this experiment were suitably adjusted, such as the embryonic stage of the tooth germ, duration of transplantation, etc., this transplantation experiment using adult lacZ-transgenic mice could be a good system to reveal the origin and migration pathway of cells in developing organs as well as in dental mesenchymal cells.
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