No association between periodontitis, preterm birth, or intrauterine growth restriction: experimental study in Wistar rats

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The biologic plausibility of the possible association between periodontitis and adverse pregnancy outcomes has been assessed with the use of different experimental models. However, most experimental studies did not induce periodontitis in the animals but promoted an acute microbial challenge with selected periodontal pathogens or their products subcutaneous or intravenous or intraamniotic. The present study was then conducted to verify the biologic plausibility of such association by experimentally inducing periodontitis in Wistar rats.


An experimental study on an animal model by the induction of periodontitis in 50% of sites and assessment of the presence of cytokines in the gingival tissue, serum, placenta, cord, and amniotic fluid was designed to test the null hypothesis that experimental periodontitis that is induced on rats does not result in adverse pregnancy outcomes.


Forty female Wistar rats were included in 2 groups: a periodontally healthy (without ligatures) and an experimentally induced periodontitis group (test, with ligatures). Forty-five days after the induction, the mating was initiated. Males were placed with females in the ratio of 1:2 for a period of 12 hours. The bodyweight of the female, from then on, was recorded daily. When the pregnancy was confirmed on day 20, laparotomy was performed. The amniotic fluid, placenta, umbilical cord, blood (serum) and maternal and gingival tissue samples were subjected to quantitative analysis for interleukin 1α, -6, -10, -4, -12p70, and -17a, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interferon-γ by multiplex methods. Mean scores, standard deviations, and standard errors for estimated measures were calculated. For cytokines analyses, the Mann-Whitney test was conducted to compare the concentration of the analytes from control and test groups in the different tissues samples. For comparison of cytokines reduction from gingival tissue to serum and from serum to placenta, the Wilcoxon Test was performed. Spearman's correlation was conducted among cytokines in the 5 different tissues that were evaluated.


The induced periodontitis in Wistar rats did not result in adverse outcomes of pregnancy. There were no statistically significant differences between groups in relation to prematurity, fetal, or birth weight. Regarding cytokines, there were no statistically significant differences in concentrations that were measured in each tissue between the groups with periodontitis and controls. Furthermore, all cytokine levels in the placenta, except interleukin-6, were diminished compared with the amniotic fluid or maternal serum, which suggested that the cytokines cannot easily be transferred via this tissue in maternal-fetal or fetomaternal direction. The fertility rate was reduced significantly in the group with periodontitis.


Periodontitis that is induced in rats is not a risk factor for preterm birth or low birthweight.

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