Enamel matrix proteins (EMPs) play a crucial role in dental development and regeneration. are essential for the formation and development of enamel, the hard, outer surface of teeth. These proteins, primarily amelogenin, ameloblastin, and enamelin, play crucial roles in enamel biomineralization. The process of obtaining enamel matrix proteins involves several steps and methods, often depending on the source and the purpose of extraction.

Sources of Enamel Matrix Proteins

1. Animal Models: Common sources include developing teeth from animals such as pigs, rats, and mice.
2. Cell Lines: Ameloblast-like cell lines can be used to produce enamel matrix proteins in vitro.
3. Recombinant DNA Technology: Genes encoding enamel matrix proteins can be cloned and expressed in bacterial or mammalian cell systems to produce recombinant proteins.

Methods of Extraction

1. Tissue Extraction: For animal models, developing teeth are harvested, and enamel organ tissues are isolated.

  • Homogenization: The tissue is homogenized in a suitable buffer to release the proteins.
  • Centrifugation: The homogenate is centrifuged to separate the soluble proteins from the insoluble material.
  • Filtration and Dialysis: The protein solution is filtered and dialyzed to remove small molecules and concentrate the proteins. 

2. Cell Culture: For cell lines, cells are grown under conditions that promote the expression of enamel matrix proteins.

  • Protein Harvesting: Proteins are harvested from the culture medium or cell lysates.
  • Purification: Proteins are purified using chromatography techniques such as affinity, ion exchange, or size exclusion chromatography.

3. Recombinant Protein Production:

  • Gene Cloning: Genes encoding the enamel matrix proteins are cloned into suitable expression vectors.
  • Transformation and Expression: The vectors are introduced into host cells (e.g., E. coli or mammalian cells), and protein expression is induced.
  • Purification: Recombinant proteins are purified using affinity tags (e.g., His-tag) and chromatography techniques.

Purification Techniques

  • Chromatography: Different types of chromatography (affinity, ion exchange, size exclusion) are used to isolate and purify specific enamel matrix proteins.
  • Electrophoresis: SDS-PAGE and other electrophoretic techniques can be used to analyze and purify proteins.
  • Immunoprecipitation: Antibodies specific to enamel matrix proteins can be used to isolate these proteins from complex mixtures.

Composition and Discovery

  • EMPs are derived from porcine fetal tooth material and are used to stimulate the regeneration of soft and hard tissues surrounding teeth after damage.
  • Human teeth consist of three hard tissues: enamel, dentin, and cementum. While dentin forms the bulk of the tooth structure, enamel covers the crown, and cementum protects the root.
  • In the mid-1990s, researchers discovered a thin layer of enamel between dentin and cementum on adult human tooth roots. This led to the identification of enamel matrix proteins as precursors to acellular cementum during its formation (cementogenesis).

Enamel Matrix Derivative (EMD)

EMD, introduced in 1996, is a commercially prepared and purified extract of enamel matrix proteins. It primarily contains amelogenin.
Amelogenin promotes the proliferation and growth of periodontal ligament (PDL) fibroblasts, essential for tissue regeneration.
EMD mimics normal root development by stimulating the release of autocrine growth factors from undifferentiated mesenchymal cells in the PDL.

Mechanism of Action:

EMD’s exact role in regeneration remains partially understood, but several key mechanisms have been identified:

  • Inhibiting Epithelial Cell Growth: EMD inhibits epithelial cell proliferation, preventing competition with PDL and alveolar bone for space.
  • Stimulating Osteoprotegerin: EMD triggers osteoblasts and indirectly inhibits osteoclastogenesis, promoting alveolar bone growth.
  • Periodontal Ligament Fibroblast Proliferation: EMD promotes PDL fibroblast growth, crucial for tissue regeneration.

Clinical Applications:

  • EMD is used in regenerative periodontal therapy to enhance tissue repair and regeneration.
  • It aids in periodontal tissue formation, including PDL fibers and alveolar bone.
  • Straumann produces EMD under the name Emdogain.

In summary, enamel matrix proteins, especially amelogenin, orchestrate a delicate dance of cellular interactions, guiding tissue regeneration in the intricate world of dentistry.

Clinical research

Periodontal Regeneration

Periodontal Defects: EMDs have been shown to promote the regeneration of periodontal tissues, including cementum, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone.

Clinical Studies: Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that EMDs improve clinical attachment levels, reduce pocket depth, and increase bone fill in periodontal defects.

Comparative Studies: EMDs have been compared to other regenerative techniques such as guided tissue regeneration (GTR) and have shown similar or superior outcomes in many cases.

Recession Coverage: EMDs are used in conjunction with coronally advanced flaps to treat gingival recession.

Clinical Outcomes

Studies have shown significant improvement in root coverage and aesthetic outcomes when using EMDs.

Treatment of Root Surface Defects

Root Surface Conditioning: EMDs are applied to root surfaces to enhance the healing of defects caused by periodontitis or trauma.

Clinical Trials: Results indicate improved attachment and reduction in root sensitivity.

Endodontic Applications: EMDs are being explored for use in endodontic procedures to promote the healing of periapical tissues and enhance root formation.

Preliminary Results: Initial studies show promising results in promoting apical closure and periapical healing.


Enamel matrix derivatives (EMDs) are biologically active substances derived from the enamel matrix of developing teeth, particularly from pigs. These derivatives contain a mix of proteins, primarily amelogenin, and have been extensively studied for their potential in regenerative dentistry. The clinical research on EMDs focuses on their applications in periodontal regeneration, treatment of root surface defects, and enhancement of wound healing.


Periobasics: A Textbook of Periodontics and Implantology

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