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Scientists Identify Oral Stem Cells’ Role in Wound Healing Process

A team led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that a unique set of stem cells located on the roof of the mouth begin dividing in response to wounding and move toward the site of injury.

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A team led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that a unique set of stem cells located on the roof of the mouth begin dividing in response to wounding and move toward the site of injury.

The team labeled and tracked oral epithelial stem cells in mice and compared cell behaviors across different tissues in the oral cavity. They found a new type of stem cell (slow-cycling cells) in the roof of the mouth. They then examined the stem cells’ reactions to various levels of physical stress. Researchers found the slow-cycling stem cells began dividing and migrated to the injury site in response to a small puncture wound in the hard palate of the mice.

The team reports that by analyzing the cells’ RNA sequences, the Lrig1 gene showed high activity in the slow-cycling stem cells. These findings suggest that Lrig1 plays an important role in keeping the cells dividing slowly under low-stress conditions. The study, “Heterogeneity Within Stratified Epithelial Stem Cell Populations Maintains the Oral Mucosa in Response to Physiological Stress,” was published in Cell Stem Cell.

From Decisions in Dentistry. May 2020;6(5):7.

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