Pulp Fibroblasts Control Nerve Regeneration through Complement Activation

  • Chmilewsky F.
  • About I.
  • Chung S.-H.

  • Pulp biology
  • Axon outgrowth
  • Receptor biology
  • Innate immunity
  • Caries
  • Cell biology


Dentin-pulp regeneration is closely linked to the presence of nerve fibers in the pulp and to the healing mechanism by sprouting of the nerve fiber's terminal branches beneath the carious injury site. However, little is known about the initial mechanisms regulating this process in carious teeth. It has been recently demonstrated that the complement system activation, which is one of the first immune responses, contributes to tissue regeneration through the local production of anaphylatoxins such as C5a. While few pulp fibroblasts in intact teeth and in untreated fibroblast cultures express the C5a receptor (C5aR), here we show that all dental pulp fibroblasts, localized beneath the carious injury site, do express this receptor. This observation is consistent with our in vitro results, which showed expression of C5aR in lipoteichoic acid-stimulated pulp fibroblasts. The interaction of C5a, produced after complement synthesis and activation from pulp fibroblasts, with the C5aR of these cells mediated the local brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) secretion. Overall, this activation guided the neuronal growth toward the lipoteichoic acid-stimulated fibroblasts. Thus, our findings highlight a new mechanism in one of the initial steps of the dentin-pulp regeneration process, linking pulp fibroblasts to the nerve sprouting through the complement system activation. This may provide a useful future therapeutic tool in targeting the fibroblasts in the dentin-pulp regeneration process.