Introduction: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the cytotoxicity of mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) and its potential detoxification by an antioxidant amino acid, N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Methods: Rat dental pulp cells extracted from rat maxillary incisors were directly cultured on MTA with or without NAC in culture me-dium. The number of cells and their spreading behavior were both assessed 24 hours after seeding. The intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and glutathione (GSH) were also assessed after 24 hours of culture. Results: The number of cells attached to MTA was 60% greater when NAC was added to the culture medium. In addition, the area and perimeter of the cells were found to be 2-fold greater in the culture containing NAC. Cells cultured on MTA alone showed large ROS concentrations, which disappeared when the medium was supplemented with NAC. The intracellular GSH level, however, increased 3.5-fold with NAC addition. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that the presence of NAC in environments can substantially improve attachment and spreading behaviors of dental pulp cells on MTA. This biological effect was associated with an im-provement in the cellular redox system by NAC and warrants further exploration of NAC for determining its therapeutic value in improving the biocompatibility of MTA.
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