Dynamics of Innate Immune Response in Bacteria-Induced Mouse Model of Pulpitis

Ozge Erdogan, Jingya Xia, Isaac M. Chiu, Jennifer L. Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: During pulpitis, as bacteria penetrate deeper into the dentin and pulp tissue, a pulpal innate immune response is initiated. However, the kinetics of the immune response, how this relates to bacterial infiltration during pulpitis and an understanding of the types of immune cells in the pulp is limited. Methods: Dental pulp exposure in the molars of mice was used as an animal model of pulpitis. To investigate the kinetics of immune response, pulp tissue was collected from permanent molars at different time points after injury (baseline, day 1, and day 7). Flow cytometry analysis of CD45+ leukocytes, including macrophages, neutrophils monocytes, and T cells, was performed. 16S in situ hybridization captured bacterial invasion of the pulp, and immunohistochemistry for F4/80 investigated spatial and morphological changes of macrophages during pulpitis. Data were analyzed using two-way ANOVA with Tukey's multiple comparisons. Results: Bacteria mostly remained close to the injury site, with some expansion towards noninjured pulp horns. We found that F4/80+ macrophages were the primary immune cell population in the healthy pulp. Upon injury, CD11b + Ly6Ghigh neutrophils and CD11b + Ly6GintLy6Cint monocytes constituted 70-90% of all immune populations up to 7 days after injury. Even though there was a slight increase in T cells at day 7, myeloid cells remained the main drivers of the immune response during the seven-day time period. Conclusions: As bacteria proliferate within the pulp chamber, innate immune cells, including macrophages, neutrophils, and monocytes, predominate as the major immune populations, with some signs of transitioning to an adaptive immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1529-1536
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of endodontics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Pulpitis
  • animal model
  • flow cytometry
  • innate immunity
  • macrophage
  • neutrophil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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