April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A new study from the Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California (USC) reveals stem cells found in mouth tissue can relieve inflammatory disease, as well as become other types of cells.
The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Dental Research, focused on gingival mesenchymal stem cells (GMSC) that are found in the gingival, or gum tissue, of the mouth. Like other stem cells, GMSC have the ability to develop into different types of cells as well as affect the immune system.
“Gingiva is very unique in our body,” says Professor Songtao Shi, associate professor at the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology. “It has much less inflammatory reaction and heals much faster when compared to skin.”
Before this study, the developmental origins and abilities of GMSC had not been fully demonstrated. The USC researchers reveal there are two types of GMSC. The first type, M-GMSC, arrives from the mesoderm layer of cells during embryonic development. The second type, N-GMSC, originate from cranial neural crest cells that develop into many important structures of the head and face. N-GMSC were found to comprise 90 percent of the gingival stem cells.
M-GMSC and N-GMSC vary dramatically in their abilities, the team found. In addition to being easier to change into other types of cells, including neural and cartilage-producing cells, N-GMSC also have more of a healing effect on inflammatory disease than M-GMSC. When mice with dextrate sulfate sodium-induced colitis – an inflamed condition of the colon – received transplants of N-GMSC, the inflammation was dramatically reduced.
The study findings suggest the stem cells in the gingiva – obtained via a simple biopsy of the gums – may have important medical applications in the future.
“We will further work on dissecting the details of the gingiva stem cells, especially their notable immunoregulatory property,” says Xingtian Xu, specialized lab technician at the Ostrow School of Dentistry Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology.
“Through the study of this unique oral tissue, we want to shed the light on the translational applications for improving skin wound healing and reducing scar formation.”