Increased oral fibroblast lifespan is telomerase-independent

S Enoch, I Wall, M Peake, L Davies, J Farrier, P Giles, D Baird, D Kipling, P Price, R Moseley, D Thomas, P Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oral mucosal wound-healing is characterized by rapid re-epithelialization and remodeling, with minimal scar formation. This may be attributed to the distinct phenotypic characteristics of the resident fibroblasts. To test this hypothesis, we investigated patient-matched oral mucosal and skin fibroblasts. Compared with skin fibroblasts, oral mucosal fibroblasts had longer proliferative lifespans, underwent more population doublings, and experienced senescence later, which was directly related to longer telomere lengths within oral mucosal fibroblasts. The presence of these longer telomeres was independent of telomerase expression, since both oral oral mucosal fibroblasts and skin fibroblasts were negative for active telomerase, as assessed according to the Telomeric Repeat Amplification Protocol. This study has demonstrated that, compared with skin fibroblasts, oral mucosal fibroblasts are 'younger', with a more embryonic/fetal-like phenotype that may provide a notable advantage for their ability to repair wounds in a scarless fashion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-921
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival/physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Senescence/physiology
  • Fibroblasts/cytology
  • Humans
  • Mouth Mucosa/cytology
  • Phenotype
  • Skin/cytology
  • Telomerase/physiology
  • Telomere/ultrastructure
  • Wound Healing/physiology
  • beta-Galactosidase/analysis


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