Periodontitis in pregnancy: Clinical and serum antibody observations from a baboon model of ligature-induced disease

David P Cappelli, M. J. Steffen, S. C. Holt, J. L. Ebersole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic oral infections that elicit host responses leading to periodontal disease are linked with various sequelae of systemic diseases.This report provides seminal information on the clinical and adaptive immunologic characteristics of a baboon model of ligature-induced periodontitis during pregnancy. Methods: Female Papio anubis were evaluated for periodontal health at baseline. Ligatures were tied around selected teeth to initiate oral inflammation and periodontitis. Then the animals were bred. At midpregnancy (;90 days), a clinical evaluation was performed, and additional ligatures were tied on teeth in the contralateral quadrants to maintain progressing periodontitis throughout pregnancy. A final clinical evaluation was done for all experimental teeth after delivery, and ligatures were removed. Serum was collected at all sampling intervals for the determination of antibody levels to a group of 20 oral bacteria. Unligated animals served as controls. Results: At baseline, 16% of animals exhibited minimal plaque and gingival inflammation without periodontal disease. The remaining baboons demonstrated varying levels of inflammation/bleeding, and;20% of the population had periodontal pocketing (>3 mm). Ligated animals expressed increased levels of inflammation and increased probing depths and clinical attachment loss (AL) and could be stratified intomultiple subsets postligation based upon changes in clinical parameters atmidpregnancy and at delivery. Baboons were categorized into disease susceptibility groups (periodontal disease susceptibility 1 through 4) that described the extent/severity of induced disease during pregnancy. Control animals showed minimal periodontal changes during gestation. Significant differences in serum antibody to multiple oral bacteria were found in animals presenting with periodontitis at baseline and during the 6 months of ligature-induced disease. A significant correlation to antibody to P. gingivalis, which was sustained throughout ligation and pregnancy, was observed with disease presentation. Conclusions: The clinical presentation at baseline, reflecting the natural history of oral disease in these animals, suggests individual variation that is reflected in the characteristics of the adaptive immune responses to oral bacteria. The variability in the response to ligation with resulting periodontal disease provides a model to document prospectively the relationship between oral and systemic health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1165
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of periodontology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Antibody
  • Bacteria
  • Periodontitis
  • Pregnancy
  • Primate studies
  • Serum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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