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Isolation, Characterization and MicroRNA-based Genetic Modification of Human Dental Follicle Stem Cells

Published: November 16th, 2018



1Reference and Translation Center for Cardiac Stem Cell Therapy (RTC), Department of Cardiac Surgery, Rostock University Medical Center, 2Department Life, Light and Matter of the Interdisciplinary Faculty at Rostock University, 3Department of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology, Rostock University Medical Center
* These authors contributed equally

This protocol describes the transient genetic engineering of dental stem cells extracted from the human dental follicle. The applied non-viral modification strategy may become a basis for the improvement of therapeutic stem cell products.

To date, several stem cell types at different developmental stages are in the focus for the treatment of degenerative diseases. Yet, certain aspects, such as initial massive cell death and low therapeutic effects, impaired their broad clinical translation. Genetic engineering of stem cells prior to transplantation emerged as a promising method to optimize therapeutic stem cell effects. However, safe and efficient gene delivery systems are still lacking. Therefore, the development of suitable methods may provide an approach to resolve current challenges in stem cell-based therapies.

The present protocol describes the extraction and characterization of human dental follicle stem cells (hDFSCs) as well as their non-viral genetic modification. The postnatal dental follicle unveiled as a promising and easily accessible source for harvesting adult multipotent stem cells possessing high proliferation potential. The described isolation procedure presents a simple and reliable method to harvest hDFSCs from impacted wisdom teeth. Also this protocol comprises methods to define stem cell characteristics of isolated cells. For genetic engineering of hDFSCs, an optimized cationic lipid-based transfection strategy is presented enabling highly efficient microRNA introduction without causing cytotoxic effects. MicroRNAs are suitable candidates for transient cell manipulation, as these small translational regulators control the fate and behavior of stem cells without the hazard of stable genome integration. Thus, this protocol represents a safe and efficient procedure for engineering of hDFSCs that may become important for optimizing their therapeutic efficacy.

The human dental follicle is a loose ectomesenchymally-derived connective tissue surrounding the developing tooth1,2. Beside its function to coordinate osteoclastogenesis and osteogenesis for the tooth eruption process, this tissue harbors stem and progenitor cells especially for the development of the periodontium3,4,5. Therefore, the dental follicle is considered as an alternative source to harvest human adult stem cells6,7.


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HDFSCs are isolated from the dental follicles of extracted wisdom teeth provided by the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Plastic Surgery of the Rostock University Medical Center. Informed consent and written approval was obtained from all patients. This study was authorized by the local ethics committee of the University of Rostock (Permission No. A 2017-0158).

1. Isolation of hDFSCs

NOTE: To prevent bacterial contamination, wisdom teeth should no.......

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Here, we present a detailed isolation instruction to harvest hDFSCs from human dental follicle tissue. Due to the easy access of the dental follicle during routine surgery, it is a promising source for the extraction of adult stem cells.

The isolated hDFSCs showed all characteristics described for the definition of MSCs13. In fact, cells were plastic-adherent under described culture conditions and display.......

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Adult stem cells are currently in focus for the treatment of several degenerative diseases. In particular, bone marrow (BM)-derived stem cells, including hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and MSCs, are under intensive clinical investigation47. However, BM harvesting is an invasive procedure causing pain at the site of donation and may lead to adverse events48. Recently, the postnatal dental tissue has emerged as a novel and easily accessible source for stem cells. These denta.......

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This work was supported by the FORUN Program of the Rostock University Medical Centre (889018) and the DAMP Foundation (2016-11). In addition, P.M. and R.D. are supported by the BMBF (VIP+ 00240).


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Mouse anti Human CD105 Antibody: Alexa Fluor 488 Bio-Rad MCA1557A488 Clone SN6, monoclonal
Mouse IgG1 Negative Control Antibody: Alexa Fluor 488 Bio-Rad MCA928A488 monoclonal
APC Mouse Anti-Human CD29 Antibody BD Biosciences 559883 Clone MAR4, monoclonal
APC Mouse IgG1, κ Isotype Control Antibody BD Biosciences 555751 Clone MOPC-21, monoclonal
PE Mouse Anti-Human CD73 Antibody BD Biosciences 550257 Clone AD2, monoclonal
PE Mouse IgG1, κ Isotype Control Antibody BD Biosciences 555749 Clone MOPC-21, monoclonal
PE-Cy7 Mouse Anti-Human CD117 Antibody BD Biosciences 339217 Clone 104D2, monoclonal
PE-Cy7 Mouse IgG1, κ Isotype Control Antibody BD Biosciences 557872 Clone MOPC-21, monoclonal
PerCP-Cy5.5 Mouse Anti-Human CD44 Antibody BD Biosciences 560531 Clone G44-26, monoclonal
PerCP-Cy5.5 Mouse IgG2b, κ Isotype Control Antibody BD Biosciences 558304 Clone 27-35, monoclonal
PerCP-Cy5.5 Mouse Anti-Human CD90 Antibody BD Biosciences 561557 Clone 5E10, monoclonal
PerCP-Cy5.5 Mouse IgG1, κ Isotype Control Antibody BD Biosciences 55095 Clone MOPC-21, monoclonal
V500 Mouse Anti-Human CD45 Antibody BD Biosciences 560777 Clone HI30, monoclonal
V500 Mouse IgG1, κ Isotype Control Antibody BD Biosciences 560787 Clone X40, monoclonal
FcR Blocking Reagent, human Miltenyi Biotec 130-059-901
UltraPure EDTA Thermo Fisher Scientific 15575-020 0.5M, pH 8.0
Steritop Merck Millipore SCGPT05RE 0.22 µm, radio-sterilized, polyethersulfone
BSA Sigma-Aldrich A7906
PFA Merck Millipore 1040051000
Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Functional Identification Kit R&D Systems SC006
RNase decontamination solution; RNaseZap RNase Decontamination Solution Thermo Fisher Scientific AM9780
Cy3-labelled precursor miR; Cy3 Dye-Labeled Pre-miR Negative Control #1 Thermo Fisher Scientific AM17120 5 nmol
Pre-miR miRNA Precursor Negative Control #1 Thermo Fisher Scientific AM17110 5nmol
Cationic lipid-based transfection reagent; Lipofectamine 2000 Transfection Reagent Thermo Fisher Scientific 11668019
Reduced serum medium; Opti-MEM I Reduced Serum Medium Thermo Fisher Scientific 31985070
Donkey anti-Goat IgG (H+L) Cross-Adsorbed Secondary Antibody, Alexa Fluor 488 Thermo Fisher Scientific A-11055 polyclonal
Donkey anti-Mouse IgG (H+L) Highly Cross-Adsorbed Secondary Antibody, Alexa Fluor 488 Thermo Fisher Scientific A-21202 polyclonal
Mounting medium; Fluoroshield with DAPI Sigma-Aldrich F6057-20ML histology mounting medium
ELYRA PS.1 LSM 780 confocal microscope Zeiss
BD FACS LSRII flow cytometer BD Biosciences
BD FACSDiva Software 6.1.2 BD Biosciences
ZEN2011 software Zeiss
Trypsin/EDTA solution (0.05%/ 0.02%) Biochrom L2143 in PBS, w/o: Ca2+, Mg2+
Amine reactive dye; LIVE/DEAD™ Fixable Near-IR Dead Cell Stain Kit Thermo Fisher Scientific L10119
PBS (1x) Thermo Fisher Scientific 10010023 pH: 7.4; w/o: Ca and Mg
P-S-G (100x) Thermo Fisher Scientific 10378016
Basal medium; Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium/Nutrient Mixture F-12 Thermo Fisher Scientific 11039021
Antibiotic, ZellShield Biochrom W 13-0050
FBS Thermo Fisher Scientific 10500064
Collagenase type I Thermo Fisher Scientific 17100017
Dispase II Thermo Fisher Scientific 17105041
Filter, Sterifix syringe filter 0.2 µm Braun 4099206
50 mL conical centrifuge tube Sarstedt 62,547,254
15 mL conical centrifuge tube Sarstedt 62,554,502
Cell culture flask 75 cm2 Sarstedt 833,910,002
Cell culture flask, 25 cm2 Sarstedt 833,911,002
Freezing medium, Biofreeze Biochrom F 2270
Cryotubes Thermo Fisher Scientific 377267 1.8 mL
Trypan blue solution Sigma-Aldrich T8154 0.4 %
Counting chamber Paul Marienfeld
Local anesthetic, Xylocitin (lidocaine hydrochloride) 2% with epinephrine (adrenaline) 0.001% Mibe
NaCl solution Braun 0.9 %
Vicryl satures, Vicryl rapide Ethicon 3 - 0

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