Anatomically shaped tooth and periodontal regeneration by cell homing

Tooth regeneration by cell delivery encounters translational hurdles. We hypothesized that anatomically correct teeth can regenerate in scaffolds without cell transplantation. Novel, anatomically shaped human molar scaffolds and rat incisor scaffolds were fabricated by 3D bioprinting from a hybrid of poly-ε-caprolactone and hydroxyapatite with 200-µm-diameter interconnecting microchannels. In each of 22 rats, an incisor scaffold was implanted orthotopically following mandibular incisor extraction, whereas a human molar scaffold was implanted ectopically into the dorsum. Stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF1) and bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP7) were delivered in scaffold microchannels. After 9 weeks, a putative periodontal ligament and new bone regenerated at the interface of rat incisor scaffold with native alveolar bone. SDF1 and BMP7 delivery not only recruited significantly more endogenous cells, but also elaborated greater angiogenesis than growth-factor-free control scaffolds. Regeneration of tooth-like structures and periodontal integration by cell homing provide an alternative to cell delivery, and may accelerate clinical applications.