Introduction: Odontoblasts produce dentin throughout life and in response to trauma. The purpose of this study was to identify the roles of endogenous Wnt signaling in regulating the rate of dentin accumulation. Methods: Histology, immunohistochemistry, vital dye labeling, and histomorphometric assays were used to quantify the rate of dentin accumulation as a function of age. Two strains of Wnt reporter mice were used to identify and follow the distribution and number of Wnt-responsive odontoblasts as a function of age. To show a causal relationship between dentin secretion and Wnt signaling, dentin accumulation was monitored in a strain of mice in which Wnt signaling was aberrantly elevated. Results: Dentin deposition occurs throughout life, but the rate of accumulation slows with age. This decline in dentin secretion correlates with a decrease in endogenous Wnt signaling. In a genetically modified strain of mice, instead of tubular dentin, aberrantly elevated Wnt signaling resulted in accumulation of reparative dentin or osteodentin secreted from predontoblasts. Conclusions: Wnt signaling regulates dentin secretion by odontoblasts, and the formation of reparative or osteodentin is the direct consequence of elevated Wnt signaling. These preclinical data have therapeutic implications for the development of a biologically based pulp capping medicant.
- Wnt signal
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