Distribution of the epithelial rests of malassez and their relationship to blood vessels of the peridontal ligament during rat tooth development

Pat Kat, Wayne Sampson, D.F Wilson, Ole Wiebkin Wiebkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is some evidence that the epithelial cell rests of Malassez partition the root surface from the periodontal ligament blood vessels, and may protect the root from resorption. Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine the distributions of the epithelial rests of Malassez (ERM) and blood vessels in the periodontal ligament (PDL) of the developing rat first molar before, during and after emergence. Methods: Four Sprague-Dawley rats were sacrificed at two days, one week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks and six weeks of age. After processing, the maxillae were embedded in paraffin, and sectioned longitudinally and transversely. The sections were stained with a double immuno-histochemical technique which utilised a keratin antibody AE1-AE3 (1:2,000) and an endothelial antibody Factor VIII (1:10,000) to enable simultaneous labelling of ERM and blood vessels. ERM and blood vessel counts were obtained from the mesio-buccal roots of thee week, four week and six week-old rats, whilst qualitative observations were made for the earlier developmental stages. Results: ERM cells and cell clusters were found in the tooth third of the PDL width at the three, four and six week stages. Cells and cell clusters increased in number with age, especially in the upper third of the mesio-buccal root. The largest numbers of cells and clusters were found on the distal surfaces of the roots in all age groups. Cells and clusters in all root surfaces increased from three to four weeks, but decreased from four to six weeks. The greatest number of blood vessels was found in the bone-side third of the PDL. The distal surface had the highest proportion of blood vessels, and the palatal surface the least proportion. The number of blood vessels in all surface quadrants did not vary much from three to four weeks of age, but increased from four to six weeks of age, possibly as a reaction to tooth emergence and occlusal function. Physiological root resorptiononly observed after tooth emergence, and appeared to be related to loss of continuity of the ERM network and the incursion of blood vessels. Conclusions: Orthodontic root resorption can be regarded as an exaggerated response to loss of PDL homeostatic control, possibly mediated by the epithelial rests of Malassez.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Orthodontic Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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