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    Autophagy is an intracellular self-degradation process that is essential for tissue development, cell differentiation, and survival. Nevertheless, the role of autophagy in tooth development has not been definitively identified. The goal of this study was to investigate how autophagy is involved in midkine (MK)-mediated odontoblast-like differentiation, mineralization, and tertiary dentin formation in a mouse tooth pulp exposure model. In vitro studies show that MK and LC3 have similar expression patterns during odontoblast-like cell differentiation. Odontoblast-like cell differentiation is promoted through MK-mediated autophagy, which leads to increased mineralized nodule formation. Subcutaneous transplantation of hydroxyapatite/tricalcium phosphate with rMK-treated human dental pulp cells led to dentin pulp-like tissue formation through MK-mediated autophagy. Furthermore, MK-mediated autophagy induces differentiation of dental pulp cells into odontoblast-like cells that form DSP-positive tertiary dentin in vivo. Our findings may provide 1) novel insight into the role of MK in regulating odontoblast-like differentiation and dentin formation in particular via autophagy and 2) potential application of MK in vital pulp therapy.


    Y H Park, Y S Lee, Y M Seo, H Seo, J S Park, H S Bae, J C Park. Midkine Promotes Odontoblast-like Differentiation and Tertiary Dentin Formation. Journal of dental research. 2020 Aug;99(9):1082-1091

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    PMID: 32442055

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