Image: Atomic force microscopy image of the multilayered PGA-alpha-MSH film (photo courtesy INSERM).
The next big treatment revolution in dentistry could involve a novel regenerative therapy in which diseased or necrotic pulp tissues are replaced with healthy pulp tissue to revitalize teeth, claims a new study.
Researchers at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM; Strasbourg, France), the University of Montpellier (France), and other institutions reported the development of a multilayered, nano-sized film--only 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair--that contains alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH), a substance that possesses anti-inflammatory properties in many acute and chronic inflammatory models. When α-MSH was covalently coupled to poly-l-glutamic acid (PGA), the resulting PGA-α-MSH nanofilm retained its anti-inflammatory properties when tested on rat monocytes.
The researchers then incubated PGA-α-MSH with dental pulp lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated fibroblasts, and were able to show that PGA-α-MSH has potential effects in promoting human pulp fibroblast adhesion and cell proliferation. It can also reduce the inflammatory state of LPS-stimulated pulp fibroblasts, as observed in gram-negative bacterial infections. According to the researchers, these effects suggest a novel use of PGA-α-MSH as an anti-inflammatory agent in regenerative endodontics, the development and delivery of tissues to replace diseased or damaged dental pulp, and could provide a revolutionary alternative to pulp removal in root canal therapy (RCT). The study was reported in the July 2010 issue of the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Nano
"It's not like toothpaste, which prevents cavities,” said coauthor Nadia Benkirane-Jessel, Ph.D., of INSERM. "Here we are really trying to control cavities after they develop. Instead of a drill, a quick dab of gel or a thin film against an infected tooth could heal teeth from within.”
According to the researchers, PGA-α-MSH can not only modulate pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines but can also promote adhesion of pulpal fibroblasts, and could therefore have important regulatory functions in extracellular matrix composition, as well as additional regulatory functions needed to modulate pulpal inflammation and reduce the need for RCT.
Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale
University of Montpellier