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The odontoblastic differentiation of dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) contributes to tertiary dentin formation. Our previous study indicated that epiregulin (EREG) enhanced odontogenesis potential of dental pulp. Here, we explored the effects of EREG during DPSC odontoblastic differentiation. The changes in EREG were detected during tertiary dentin formation. DPSCs were treated with recombinant human EREG (rhEREG), EREG receptor inhibitor gefitinib and short hairpin RNAs. The odontoblastic differentiation was assessed with ALP staining, ALP activity assay, alizarin red S staining and real-time RT-PCR of DSPP, OCN, RUNX2 and OSX. Western blot was conducted to examine the levels of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (Erk1/2). The expression of EREG and odontoblastic differentiation-related markers was investigated in human dental pulp from teeth with deep caries and healthy teeth. Epiregulin was upregulated during tertiary dentin formation. rhEREG enhanced the odontoblastic differentiation of DPSCs following upregulated p38 MAPK and Erk1/2 phosphorylation, but not JNK, whereas depletion of EREG suppressed DPSC differentiation. Gefitinib decreased odontoblastic differentiation with decreased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and Erk1/2. And suppression of p38 MAPK and Erk1/2 pathways attenuated DPSC differentiation. In human dental pulp tissue, EREG upregulation in deep caries correlates with odontoblastic differentiation enhancement. Epiregulin is released during tertiary dentin formation. And EREG enhanced DPSC odontoblastic differentiation via MAPK pathways. © 2019 The Authors. Cell Proliferation Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Dixin Cui, Jiani Xiao, Yachuan Zhou, Xin Zhou, Ying Liu, Yiran Peng, Yi Yu, Hongyu Li, Xuedong Zhou, Quan Yuan, Mian Wan, Liwei Zheng. Epiregulin enhances odontoblastic differentiation of dental pulp stem cells via activating MAPK signalling pathway. Cell proliferation. 2019 Nov;52(6):e12680

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PMID: 31454111

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