Dental epithelial stem cells from mice can generate mammary ducts and even milk-producing cells when transplanted into mammary glands, according to a Swiss study.
This could be used for post-surgery tissue regeneration in breast cancer patients.
The ability of adult stem cells to generate various tissue-specific cell populations is of great interest in the medical and dental research fields. These cells can replace damaged cells and therefore represent a good alternative to classical medical treatments for tissue regeneration. This may even allow the de novo formation of entire tissues and organs in the future.
Dental epithelial stem cells are able to generate all epithelial cell types of the teeth; however, until now it was not clear whether these cells could also produce non-dental cell populations.
In a recent paper published in Cells, a team of researchers from the University of Zurich, has shown for the first time that epithelial stem cells isolated from the continuously growing incisors of young mice are indeed able to form mammary glands in female mice.
“The results show that the dental stem cells contribute to mammary gland regeneration, and are able to generate all mammary cell populations and, even more strikingly, milk-producing cells,” Professor Thimios Mitsiadis said.
This work demonstrates the exceptional plasticity of dental epithelial stem cells to generate not only dental tissues but also other tissues of the body.