Novel Functional Peptide for Next-Generation Vital Pulp Therapy
Although vital pulp therapy should be performed by promoting the wound-healing capacity of dental pulp, existing pulp-capping materials were not developed with a focus on the pulpal repair process. In previous investigations of wound healing in dental pulp, we found that organic dentin matrix components (DMCs) were degraded by matrix metalloproteinase-20, and DMC degradation products containing protein S100A7 (S100A7) and protein S100A8 (S100A8) promoted the pulpal wound-healing process. However, the direct use of recombinant proteins as pulp-capping materials may cause clinical problems or lead to high medical costs. Thus, we hypothesized that functional peptides derived from recombinant proteins could solve the problems associated with direct use of such proteins. In this study, we identified functional peptides derived from the protein S100 family and investigated their effects on dental pulp tissue. We first performed amino acid sequence alignments of protein S100 family members from several mammalian sources, then identified candidate peptides. Next, we used a peptide array method that involved human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) to evaluate the mineralization-inducing ability of each peptide. Our results supported the selection of 4 candidate functional peptides derived from proteins S100A8 and S100A9. Direct pulp-capping experiments in a rat model demonstrated that 1 S100A8-derived peptide induced greater tertiary dentin formation compared with the other peptides. To investigate the mechanism underlying this induction effect, we performed liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry analysis using hDPSCs and the S100A8-derived peptide; the results suggested that this peptide promotes tertiary dentin formation by inhibiting inflammatory responses. In addition, this peptide was located in a hairpin region on the surface of S100A8 and could function by direct interaction with other molecules. In summary, this study demonstrated that a S100A8-derived functional peptide promoted wound healing in dental pulp; our findings provide insights for the development of next-generation biological vital pulp therapies.