Vital pulp therapy (VPT) is to preserve the nerve and maintain healthy dental pulp tissue. Laser irradiation (LI) is beneficial for VPT. Understanding how LI affects dental pulp cells and tissues is necessary to elucidate the mechanism of reparative dentin and dentin regeneration. Here, we show how Er:YAG-LI and diode-LI modulated cell proliferation, apoptosis, gene expression, protease activation, and mineralization induction in dental pulp cells and tissues using cell culture, immunohistochemical, genetic, and protein analysis techniques. Both LIs promoted proliferation in porcine dental pulp-derived cell lines (PPU-7), although the cell growth rate between the LIs was different. In addition to proliferation, both LIs also caused apoptosis; however, the apoptotic index for Er:YAG-LI was higher than that for diode-LI. The mRNA level of odontoblastic gene markers—two dentin sialophosphoprotein splicing variants and matrix metalloprotease (MMP)20 were enhanced by diode-LI, whereas MMP2 was increased by Er:YAG-LI. Both LIs enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity, suggesting that they may help induce PPU-7 differentiation into odontoblast-like cells. In terms of mineralization induction, the LIs were not significantly different, although their cell reactivity was likely different. Both LIs activated four MMPs in porcine dental pulp tissues. We helped elucidate how reparative dentin is formed during laser treatments.
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