Effects of Adenosine Triphosphate on Proliferation and Odontoblastic Differentiation of Human Dental Pulp Cells

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Adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) is a potent signaling molecule that regulates diverse biological activities in cells. Its effects on human dental pulp cells (HDPCs) remain unknown. This study aimed to examine the effects of ATP on proliferation and differentiation of HDPCs.


Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction was performed to explore the mRNA expression of P2 receptor subtypes. Cell Counting Kit-8 test and flow cytometry analysis were used to examine the effects of ATP on proliferation and cell cycle of HDPCs. The effects of ATP on differentiation of HDPCs were examined by using alizarin red S staining, energy-dispersive x-ray analysis, Western blot analysis, and real-time polymerase chain reaction.


The purinoceptors P2X3, P2X4, P2X5, P2X7, and all P2Y receptor subtypes were confirmed to present in HDPCs. ATP enhanced HDPC proliferation at 10 μmol/L concentration. However, it inhibited cell proliferation by arresting the cell cycle in G0G1 phase (P < .05 versus control) and induced odontoblastic differentiation, ERK/MAPK activation, and dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1) and dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP) mRNA transcriptions at 800 μmol/L concentration. Suramin, an ATP receptor antagonist, inhibited ERK/MAPK activation and HDPC odontoblastic differentiation (P < .05 versus control).


Extracellular ATP activates P2 receptors and downstream signaling events that induce HDPC odontogenic differentiation. Thus, ATP may promote dental pulp tissue healing and repair through P2 signaling. Results provide new insights into the molecular regulation of pulpal wound healing.

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