Cementum is a mineralized tissue covering the tooth root that functions in tooth attachment and posteruptive adjustment of tooth position. During formation of the apically located cellular cementum, some cementoblasts become embedded in the cementoid matrix and become cementocytes. As apparently terminally differentiated cells embedded in a mineralized extracellular matrix, cementocytes are part of a select group of specialized cells, also including osteocytes, hypertrophic chondrocytes, and odontoblasts. The differentiation and potential function(s) of cementocytes are virtually unknown, and the question may be posed whether the cementocyte is a dynamic actor in cementum in comparable fashion with the osteocyte in the skeleton, responding to changing tooth functions and endocrine signals and actively directing local cementum metabolism. This review summarizes the literature with regard to cementocytes, comparing them to their closest "cousins," the osteocytes, where insights gained from osteocyte studies serve to inform the critical examination of cementocytes. The review identifies important unanswered questions about these cells regarding their origins, differentiation, morphology and lacuno-canalicular system, selective markers, and potential functions.
- extracellular matrix
ASJC Scopus subject areas