Award Date

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Medicine

First Committee Member

Karl Kingsley

Second Committee Member

Brian Chrzan

Third Committee Member

Joshua Polansky

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Pharr

Number of Pages



Growth factor is an umbrella term used to describe a signaling molecule present in organisms that serves the purpose of influencing a stimulatory or inhibitory response from the target cell it acts on. Growth factors are categorized and classified by the types of tissues they act on and the cellular responses they illicit. For example, there are growth factors that act primarily in connective tissue on fibroblasts and they are aptly classified as the fibroblast growth factor family. Similarly, there is another family of growth factors that act on bone forming cells, among others, and they are known as bone morphogenic proteins. One member from this group of growth factors, BMP-2, is the focus of the current research.

Bone Morphogenic Proteins are part of the Transforming Growth Factor-beta superfamily of growth factors. Recently they have been implicated in a variety of pathological processes including colon cancer and Barrett’s esophagus. BMP-2 is known for its ability to stimulate bone formation and is the most successful bone modulator in the family. Its involvement in cellular differentiation into bone forming cells has been shown in many studies. BMP-2 acts on cell surface receptors which, through a series of reactions, enhances the likelihood of differentiating into a bone forming cell. This induction can be demonstrated in a variety of cell types. Those of particular interest are stem cells.

There are three main types of stem cells including: embryonic stem cells, adult non- embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells. Adult stem cells are the most abundant and are less controversial than embryonic stem cells. Currently adult stem cells are being isolated from a variety of tissues including those of mesenchymal tissue origin. The cell type in the current study are dental pulp stem cells (DPSC) which have been shown to display phenotypic changes in response to various growth factors. The use of multiple growth factors concomitantly on DPSC has not been studied in great depth, and thus it is not known if multiple stimulatory growth factors will act synergistically or antagonistically with one another.

The data from the two following studies provide evidence that BMP-2 provides a stimulating influence on at least one dental pulp stem cell subset. When used concomitantly, BMP-2 and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) enhances sDT DPSC phenotype (viability and growth) beyond that of either growth factor independently. Future studies may be needed to evaluate the potential for BMP-2 and other growth factors to induce DPSC differentiation and lineage-specific phenotypic changes for bioengineering applications or tissue regeneration.


BMP; Cell; Dental; Induction; Pulp; Stem


Biomechanical Engineering | Biomedical | Biomedical Devices and Instrumentation

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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