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Tissue regeneration in dentistry: can salamanders provide insight?


The ability to regenerate damaged tissues would be of tremendous benefit for medicine and dentistry. Unfortunately, humans are unable to regenerate tissues such teeth, fingers or to repair injured spinal cord. With an aging population, health problems are more prominent and dentistry is no exception as loss of bone tissue in the orofacial sphere from periodontal disease is on the rise. Humans can repair oral soft tissues exceptionally well, however hard tissues, like bone and teeth, are devoid of the ability to repair well or at all. Fortunately, Mother Nature has solved nearly every problem that we would like to solve for our own benefit and tissue regeneration is no exception. By studying animals that can regenerate, like Axolotls (Mexican salamander), we hope to find ways to stimulate regeneration in humans. We will discuss the role of the transforming growth factor beta cytokines as they are central to wound healing in humans and regeneration in Axolotls. We will also compare wound healing in humans (skin and oral mucosa) to Axolotl skin wound healing and limb regeneration. Finally, we will address the problem of bone regeneration and present results in salamanders which indicate that in order to regenerate bone you need to recruit non-bone cells. Fundamental research, such as the work being done in animals that can regenerate, offers insight to help understand why some treatments are successful while others fail when it comes to specific tissues such as bones. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.