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[Odontoblast: a key cell involved in the perception of dentinal pain].

Jean-Christophe Maurin, Marie-Lise Couble, Beatrice Thivichon-Prince, Henri Magloire

Med Sci (Paris), 2013 Mar , 29, 293-9

Dentinal sensitivity is a clinical condition daily encountered by practitioners and constitutes the symptoms of dentinal hypersensitivity, a common dental pain affecting on average 30% of the population. However, the management of this pathology is not always effective due to the lack of knowledge particularly concerning the means by which dental nociceptive signals are transduced. The mechanisms underlying dentin sensitivity still remain unclear probably due to the structural and functional complexity of the players including odontoblasts, nerve endings and dentinal fluid running in the dentinal tubules. The unique spatial situation of odontoblasts, ciliated cells in close relationship with nerve terminals, suggests that they could play a pivotal role in the transduction of sensory events occurring within the dentin tissue. Our studies have identified mechano-thermosensitive transient receptor potential ion channels (TRPV1-4, TRPA8, TRPM3, KCa, TREK-1, PC1, PC2) localised on the odontoblastic membrane and at the base of the cilium. They could sense temperature variations or movements of dentinal fluid within tubules. Moreover, several voltage-gated sodium channels confer excitable properties to odontoblasts in response to injection of depolarizing currents. In vivo, these channels co-localize with nerve endings at the apical pole of odontoblasts, and their expression pattern seems to be correlated with the spatial distribution of stretch-activated KCa channels. All these data strengthen the hypothesis that odontoblasts could act as sensor cells able to transmit nociceptive signals. However, how cells sense signals and how the latter are transmitted to axons represent the main issue to be solved.