Stem cells provide renewable sources of cells in many adult tissues, enabling tissue growth and repair. But what happens when the stem cells themselves become depleted or the tissue needs to go through periods of more rapid growth?
Researchers at the King’s College London Dental Institute have showed that in growing teeth, a tiny population of cells acts as an emergency reservoir and can provide new stem cells during rapid tooth growth.
These normally quiescent cells become activated at times when the tooth needs a growth spurt. They generate a specific population of stem cells that provide the extra cells needed for the increase in growth rate.
According to the researchers, this work has implications for understanding how stem cells behave and which cell populations may need to be targeted in clinical therapies. By knowing which stem cells to activate to encourage rapid growth, the research takes another step toward enabling the natural repair of teeth.
The study, “A Quiescent Cell Population Replenishes Mesenchymal Stem Cells to Drive Accelerated Growth in Mouse Incisors,” was published by Nature Communications.