An experimental murine model to study periodontitis

Nat Protoc. 2018 Oct;13(10):2247-2267. doi: 10.1038/s41596-018-0035-4.


Periodontal disease (PD) is a common dental disease associated with the interaction between dysbiotic oral microbiota and host immunity. It is a prevalent disease, resulting in loss of gingival tissue, periodontal ligament, cementum and alveolar bone. PD is a major form of tooth loss in the adult population. Experimental animal models have enabled the study of PD pathogenesis and are used to test new therapeutic approaches for treating the disease. The ligature-induced periodontitis model has several advantages as compared with other models, including rapid disease induction, predictable bone loss and the capacity to study periodontal tissue and alveolar bone regeneration because the model is established within the periodontal apparatus. Although mice are the most convenient and versatile animal models used in research, ligature-induced periodontitis has been more frequently used in large animals. This is mostly due to the technical challenges involved in consistently placing ligatures around murine teeth. To reduce the technical challenge associated with the traditional ligature model, we previously developed a simplified method to easily install a bacterially retentive ligature between two molars for inducing periodontitis. In this protocol, we provide detailed instructions for placement of the ligature and demonstrate how the model can be used to evaluate gingival tissue inflammation and alveolar bone loss over a period of 18 d after ligature placement. This model can also be used on germ-free mice to investigate the role of human oral bacteria in periodontitis in vivo. In conclusion, this protocol enables the mechanistic study of the pathogenesis of periodontitis in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Periodontitis / etiology
  • Periodontitis / microbiology
  • Periodontitis / pathology*