An in vitro system was developed to determine whether bacterial endotoxin is capable of diffusing through dentin without the use of filtration pressure. Cavities were prepared in five third molar teeth in order to produce a split chamber device consisting of occlusal and pulpal chambers with 0.5 mm of intervening dentin. Endotoxin was introduced into the occlusal chamber and the effluent in the pulpal chamber was sampled every 30 min for 5 h and at 24 h using the limulus lysate assay. In four specimens the initial appearance of endotoxin in the effluent ranged from 15 min to 41/2 h. In two specimens the concentration of endotoxin in the effluent leveled off in 41/2 and 5 h, respectively, whereas in another two the concentration continued to increase throughout the experiment. In one specimen no endotoxin was detected. The results indicate that endotoxin is capable of passing through 0.5 mm of dentin.
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