Development of an animal model for Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans biofilm-mediated oral osteolytic infection: a preliminary study

J Periodontol. 2011 May;82(5):778-89. doi: 10.1902/jop.2010.100263. Epub 2011 Jan 11.


Background: Biofilm-induced inflammatory osteolytic oral infections, such as periodontitis and peri-implantitis, have complex etiology and pathogenesis. A significant obstacle to research has been the lack of appropriate animal models where the inflammatory response to biofilms can be investigated. The aim of this study is to develop a novel animal model to study the host response to Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (previously Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans)-biofilm colonizing titanium implants.

Methods: Titanium implants were inoculated in vitro with A. actinomycetemcomitans, establishing a biofilm for 1 to 3 days. Biofilm-inoculated and control implants were transmucosally placed into rat hard palate or alveolar ridge. Analysis included documentation of clinical inflammation, polymerase chain reaction, and culture detection of A. actinomycetemcomitans and microcomputed tomography quantitation of peri-implant bone volume.

Results: Viable A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm was successfully established on titanium implants in vitro, detected by confocal laser scanning microscopy. An inflammatory response characterized by clinical inflammation, bleeding, ulceration, hyperplasia, and necrosis was observed around biofilm-inoculated implants. A. actinomycetemcomitans was detected by polymerase chain reaction and culture analysis on 100% of biofilm-inoculated implants for up to 3 weeks and 25% for up to 6 weeks. Microcomputed tomography analysis demonstrated significantly lower bone volume (P <0.05) around biofilm-inoculated implants (29.6% ± 7.6%) compared to non-inoculated implants (50.5% ± 9.6%) after 6 weeks.

Conclusions: These results describe a novel animal model where A. actinomycetemcomitans biofilm was established in vitro on titanium implants before placement in rat oral cavity, leading to an inflammatory response, osteolysis, and tissue destruction. This model may have potential use for investigation of host responses to biofilm pathogens and antibiofilm therapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacillus Infections / microbiology*
  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans / physiology*
  • Alveolar Bone Loss / microbiology
  • Alveolar Process / microbiology
  • Alveolar Process / surgery
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Biofilms*
  • Dental Implants / microbiology
  • Dental Materials / chemistry
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Gingival Hemorrhage / microbiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology*
  • Hyperplasia
  • Microbial Viability
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Necrosis
  • Oral Ulcer / microbiology
  • Palate, Hard / surgery
  • Peri-Implantitis / microbiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Titanium / chemistry
  • X-Ray Microtomography


  • Dental Implants
  • Dental Materials
  • Titanium