Older age is associated with reduced immune function. Our aim was to study how age affects the development of apical periodontitis (AP). AP was induced in two age groups of mice (young vs. adult). Histological samples were stained by Hematoxylin Eosin, Brown and Brenn, and Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase. In addition, the samples were scanned by Micro-Computerized-Tomography (micro-CT) to evaluate apical constriction and periapical lesion size. Cell density in the periapical region was computationally assessed. Moreover, lesion immune cell populations were characterized by flow cytometry and immunofluorescence. The young group presented more canals with necrotic radicular pulp compared to the adults. There was no difference in bacteria location in the canals between the groups. Apical constriction size was larger in the young mice compared to the adults. The periapical cell density was higher in the young group, while the dominant immune cells in the lesions were neutrophils, which also exhibited the highest young/adult ratio. Immunofluorescence demonstrated neutrophils in the lesion. More osteoclasts were present in the lesions of the young mice, in correlation to the higher volume of bone resorption in this group. Overall, we conclude that the immune reaction to AP stimuli was attenuated in the adult mice compared to the young.
Keywords: aging; apical periodontitis; immune system.