2012 Volume 33 Issue 2 Pages 119-132
Differentiated odontoblasts could not be identified by one unique phenotypic marker, but the combination of expression of dentin phosphoprotein (Dpp), dentin sialoprotein (Dsp), dentin matrix protein 1 (Dmp1), and nestin may be valuable for the assessment of these cells. However, the findings using these proteins remain controversial. This study aimed to compare two odontoblast differentiation markers: nestin and Dsp in the process of dentinogenesis in mice. We performed immunohistochemistry and/or in situ hybridization technique for nestin and Dsp using 3-week-old incisors as well as postnatal 1-day- to 8-week-old molars. Preodontoblasts began to express nestin and Dsp proteins and Dsp mRNA, which increased in their intensity according to the progress of odontoblast differentiation in both incisors and developing molars. Nestin was consistently expressed in the differentiated odontoblasts even after the completion of dentin matrix deposition. The expression of Dsp mRNA coincided with the odontoblast secretory activity for dentin matrix deposition. In contrast, other pulpal cells, predentin matrix and dentinal tubules also showed a positive reaction for Dsp protein in addition to differentiated odontoblasts. In conclusion, nestin is valuable as a differentiation marker for odontoblasts, whereas Dsp mRNA is a functional marker for their secretory activity.