Application of Dental Pulp Stem Cells (DPSCs) in Facial Nerve Regeneration
Dr. Pasha Shakoori is a PGY-3 resident in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He completed dental school and a master’s degree at Columbia University in the City of New York with a focus on stem cell research and biomaterials. His research is in regeneration and applications of regenerative medicine in reconstructive surgery. He will be continuing his research while pursuing a Doctor of Science degree in biomaterials at the University of Pennsylvania while in residency. He is also active in professional organizations where he serves as an executive board member of the Resident Organization of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (ROAAOMS).
Dental pulp-derived stem cells (DPSCs) are capable of differentiating into different lineages of neural cells, thus rendering them a promising candidate seed cells for peripheral nerve regeneration. Tissue-engineered nerve conduits with DPSCs have been shown to promote facial nerve regeneration in rats. Our preliminary data showed that DPSCs can be differentiated into both Schwann and neuron-like cells when cultured under 2D- and small-intestine submucosa (SIS) membranes. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that DPSCs seeded on SIS-scaffolds could represent a promising alternative stem cell-based nerve wrap for facial nerve repair/regeneration. Our project aims to optimize the conditions to differentiate DPSCs into both Schwann and neuronal cells under 2D- and SIS 3D-culture conditions. Human DPSCs can be an excellent candidate for peripheral nerve regeneration due to its neural crest origin, sufficient availability, ready accessibility, non-invasive harvesting procedures, rapid proliferation, multipotent differentiation, and successful integration into host tissues with immunologic tolerance. In addition, in combination with tissue engineering technologies, these DPSCs can also serve as a superior seed cell source for the development of engineered nerve products that hold great promises for clinical application for peripheral nerve repair/regeneration.