Intradental, i.e. pulpal, cells may play an important part in sensory transduction in teeth, although the cellular mechanisms and the identity of the specific cell types involved are still unclear. Because the majority of cells in dental pulp are derived from neural crest, it seemed likely that these might have the membrane properties of other neural-derived cells found in the peripheral or central nervous system. The patch-clamp recording technique was used to show that cells in explant cultures from human dental pulp contain a voltage-gated, tetrodotoxin-sensitive inward current. Mean activation potential of the current was -42 ± 2.5 mV and the voltage at half-inactivation was -79.4 ± 5.3 mV, suggesting a neural-like sodium conductance. In addition, these cells were immunoreactive to glial acidic fibrillary protein, growth-associated protein (GAP-43), and vimentin, further suggesting that dental pulp contains a population of cells with membrane properties similar to neuronal satellite cells. These cells may contribute, either directly or indirectly, to somatosensation in teeth.
- glial fibrillary acidic protein
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology