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Innervation of periodontal ligament and dental pulp in the rat incisor: An immunohistochemical investigation of neurofilament protein and glia-specific S-100 protein


Nervous elements in the periodontal ligament and dental pulp of rat incisors were investigated by means of immunohistochemistry for neurofilament protein (NFP) and glia-specific S-100 protein. The periodontal ligament in the incisors was densely innervated by NFP-immunoreactive nerve fibers; the distribution of the nerve fibers and their terminations differed markedly from those in molars. NFP-positive, thick nerve bundles entered the lingual periodontal ligament through slits located in the mid-region of the alveolar socket, and immediately formed numerous Ruffini-like corpuscles. In the labial periodontal ligament, all of the NFP-immunoreactive nerve fibers terminated in free endings. The restricted location of the stretch receptor, Ruffini-like corpuscle, in the lingual periodontal ligament appears to be an essential element, because this region is regularly extended during mastication. The nervous elements were restricted to the alveolar half of the periodontal ligament in every region; they avoided the dental half of the periodontal ligament, which presumably moves continuously with the tooth. Pulpal nerve fibers in incisors also showed a characteristic distribution different from those in molars; individual nerve fibers with beaded structures ran in the center of the pulp toward the incisai edge, and did not form the subodontoblastic nerve plexus of Raschkow.

Immunostaining for S-100 protein revealed a distribution pattern of nervous elements similar to that for NFP, suggesting that the nerves supplying the periodontal ligament and dental pulp were mostly covered by a Schwann sheath.

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Correspondence to Osamu Sato.

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Sato, O., Maeda, T., Kobayashi, S. et al. Innervation of periodontal ligament and dental pulp in the rat incisor: An immunohistochemical investigation of neurofilament protein and glia-specific S-100 protein. Cell Tissue Res. 251, 13–21 (1988).

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Key words

  • Periodontal ligament
  • Incisor
  • Neurofilament protein
  • S-100 protein
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Rat