Attachment of human epithelial cells and periodontal ligament fibroblasts to tooth dentin

Regina L W Messer, Cortney M. Davis, Jill B. Lewis, Yolanda Adams, John C. Wataha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A goal of treatment in periodontal therapy is to regenerate a new fibroblastic attachment rather than to repair lost attachment with a long junctional epithelium. To date, there is no evidence that fibroblastic attachment formed during regeneration is stronger or less susceptible to periodontal breakdown than a long junctional epithelial attachment. We measured the rate and strength of attachment of epithelial cells (NHEK) and periodontal ligament fibroblasts (PDLF) cultured individually and cocultured to dentin surfaces to determine which cell type has a faster attachment rate and greater adhesive strength to human dentin, and whether the cell types attach independently. Longitudinal dentin slices were seeded with either PDLF or NHEK for 2 or 24 h. The specimens were placed into a parallel plate flow chamber and defined laminar shear stresses were applied. Shear stress was created by step increases in fluid flow rate. Effluent fluid was collected and cell numbers (detached) were counted using a hemocytometer. Cocultures of PDLF and NHEK at three seeding ratios (10:1, 1:1, 1:10) were also tested. Each cell type attached equally well to polystyrene or dentin. PDLF showed a stronger attachment to polystyrene and dentin at 24 versus 2 h. NHEK attached to polystyrene or dentin equally well at 2 and 24 h. NHEK were more strongly attached after 2 h when compared to PDLF. PDLF were more strongly attached after 24 h versus NHEK. When NHEK and PDLF were seeded together on dentin at a 1:1 ratio, PDLF appeared to be more strongly attached than NHEK at 2 but not 24 h. At a ratio of 10 PDLF:1 NHEK, PDLF appeared to be more strongly attached at 2 and 24 h. At a ratio of 1 PDLF:10 NHEK, NHEK appeared to be more strongly attached at 2 h, but PDLF showed a trend of stronger attachment at 24 h. We conclude that epithelial cells attach more quickly to dentin surfaces than PDLF, but do not demonstrate increased attachment strength over time (PDLF do show increased attachment strength overtime). The purported advantages of periodontal regeneration over periodontal repair are supported by our results. Furthermore, our results support the concept of guided tissue regeneration. On the basis of on cellular competition experiments, epithelial cells and PDLF do not act independently, because epithelial cells enhanced the attachment rate of PDLF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006


  • Attachment
  • Dentin
  • Periodontal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys


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