The Role of Autophagy in Regenerative Dentistry
Author(s): Elif Oktay Sepet*
Autophagy plays an important role in the development, differentiation, aging, and tooth morphogenesis. The dental pulp maintains the tooth’s homeostasis, and supports dentin formation and regeneration. Autophagy in a pulp cell can either protect or kill the cell, depending on the duration and dose of extrinsic factors. Cell survival and homeostasis are maintained by a balanced synthesis and degradation of cellular proteins and organelles. Failure of autophagy can result in the accumulation of potentially harmful damaged structures. Autophagic activity can help dental pulp stem cells survive under mild stress, whereas it leads to cell death under severe stress. Factors such as aging can promote an increase in autophagy in dental pulp cells, suggesting that autophagy may be important for the differentiation of odontoblasts and pulp mesenchymal cells as well as their survival. A complex cellular activity regulates dental pulp cells’ lifespan to guarantee organelle and protein renewal. The detailed mechanisms behind autophagy's participation in the pulpal diseases and healing are still unclear, so more research is needed to better understand the relationship. It is predicted that further research on autophagy will help to the development of innovative and effective targeted therapies in regenerative dentistry.