Effect of Octamer-Binding Transcription Factor 4 Overexpression on the Neural Induction of Human Dental Pulp Stem Cells

Maria R. Gancheva, Karlea Kremer, James Breen, Agnes Arthur, Anne Hamilton-Bruce, Paul Thomas, Stan Gronthos, Simon Koblar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stem cell-based therapy is a potential alternative strategy for brain repair, with neural stem cells (NSC) presenting as the most promising candidates. Obtaining sufficient quantities of NSC for clinical applications is challenging, therefore alternative cell types, such as neural crest-derived dental pulp stem cells (DPSC), may be considered. Human DPSC possess neurogenic potential, exerting positive effects in the damaged brain through paracrine effects. However, a method for conversion of DPSC into NSC has yet to be developed. Here, overexpression of octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (OCT4) in combination with neural inductive conditions was used to reprogram human DPSC along the neural lineage. The reprogrammed DPSC demonstrated a neuronal-like phenotype, with increased expression levels of neural markers, limited capacity for sphere formation, and enhanced neuronal but not glial differentiation. Transcriptomic analysis further highlighted the expression of genes associated with neural and neuronal functions. In vivo analysis using a developmental avian model showed that implanted DPSC survived in the developing central nervous system and respond to endogenous signals, displaying neuronal phenotypes. Therefore, OCT4 enhances the neural potential of DPSC, which exhibited characteristics aligning with neuronal progenitors. This method can be used to standardise DPSC neural induction and provide an alternative source of neural cell types. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
JournalStem Cell Reviews and Reports
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 5 Feb 2024


  • Cell-based therapy
  • Cellular reprogramming
  • Dental pulp stem cells
  • Neural
  • Neuronal
  • Octamer-binding transcription factor 4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research

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