In carious teeth, transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) is released from the dentin matrix and possibly activated in an acidic environment. Conversely, EDTA solutions with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH are used in clinics to promote cell homing in regenerative endodontic procedures. We hypothesized that citric acid (CA) might be more beneficial.
TGF-β1 release from human dentin disks conditioned with either 10% CA (pH = 2) or 17% EDTA (pH = 8) and the behavior of human stem cells toward such pretreated dentin were studied. The protein concentration in conditioning solutions after 10 minutes of dentin exposure was determined using a pH-independent slot blot technique.
There was a 5-fold higher concentration of the target protein in CA (382 ± 30 ng/disk) compared with EDTA (66 ± 3 ng/disk, P < .005). Using confocal laser scanning microscopy on immunofluorescent-labeled disks, we identified a high density of TGF-β1 in peritubular dentin after CA treatment. A migration assay showed that CA conditioning attracted significantly more stem cells toward the dentin after 24 hours compared with EDTA (P < .05) or phosphate-buffered saline (P < .005). To investigate whether the cell response to these dentin surfaces could be affected by different pretreatments, we cultured stem cells on conditioned dentin disks and found that CA had a significantly (P < .05) better effect than EDTA on cell attachment and cell survival.
CA conditioning could be useful and may have significant benefits over current treatments.