JICDRO is a UGC approved journal (Journal no. 63927)

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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 92-99

Animal experimentation-Part II: In periodontal research

Department of Periodontics, Guru Nanak Institute of Dental Science and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Web Publication3-Sep-2015

Correspondence Address:
T K Pal
Principal, Professor and Head, Department of Periodontics, Guru Nanak Institute of Dental Sciences and Research, 157/F, Nilgunj Road, Panihati, Sodpur, Kolkata - 700 114, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2231-0754.164360

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Animals contribute to the development of medical and dental sciences by being sacrificed in the hands of scientists. The experimental design demands a specific type of animal to be used for experimentation. Each animal needs proper handling, care, and diet. Alongside specific advantages and disadvantages pertaining to each type of animal need to be understood well depending on the type of study/experiment. It is important for the researcher to know the disease susceptibility of each animal. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the salient factors that need to be considered for animal experimentations.

Keywords: Animal experimentations, animal model, periodontal research

How to cite this article:
Pal T K. Animal experimentation-Part II: In periodontal research. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ 2015;7:92-9

How to cite this URL:
Pal T K. Animal experimentation-Part II: In periodontal research. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Jul 3];7:92-9. Available from: https://www.jicdro.org/text.asp?2015/7/2/92/164360

   Introduction Top

The contribution of research via animal experiments cannot be overemphasized. Knowledge obtained from these experiments has led to a greater understanding of diseases, especially in the field of periodontology. There are numerous publications supporting this fact. In 1920s, Gottlieb published histologic studies on periodontal tissues of laboratory animals. [1] After World War II, animal models of periodontal diseases were developed and the role of local and systemic factors were studied by several investigators. [1] Page and Schroeder (1982) published a monograph on "Periodontitis in man and other animals." [1]

For more than 100 years, attempts have been made to understand the nature and methods of prevention of periodontal disease. Acquisition of new information accelerated during the past 2-3 decades and has now gathered momentum to such a degree that remarkable progress has been made toward understanding the pathogenesis of periodontitis. This new information has been made from three sources - Clinical observations, cell culture studies, and animal experiments. Not only have such experiments provided a new basic insight into the functions of cells and tissues of the pathologically altered host but they have also produced data on pharmacokinetics and treatment that are immediately relevant; some cases are directly applicable for the problems of treating humans with periodontitis.

   Role of Animal Models in Periodontal Experimentations Top

In vitro studies have provided considerable data characterizing the functional capacities, interrelationships, and mechanisms and most of these studies have been undertaken as in vivo studies as well. Attempts to gain this kind of evidence require the availability of well-characterized animal models and thus evolved the need for animal experiments.

In addition to man, several other mammals develop periodontits with age. Therefore, the periodontal tissues of a variety of mammals have been studied in the hope of finding a true analog to human gingivitis and periodontitis. By such means, experimentations are the fortune of veterinary medicine that has expanded, and the benefits are being shared by both men and animals in a splendid way. [2],[3],[4],[5] Dannan and Alkattam et al., (2008) stated that dogs were mostly used in periodontal research. [4] Monkeys were been used for periodontal regeneration and to investigate periodontitis and/or gingivitis model. [5] The rat model was used to study pathogenicity and importance of immunological dysfunction, and for immunization studies. [2],[3],[4] Rabbits were documented in periodontal regeneration studies. [4],[5],[6]

A few important selected animal studies regarding periodontal pathogenesis, drug trials, periodontal regeneration, application of new biomaterials, healing at tooth mucosal junction, etc., from various journals for the past 10-20 years are summarized [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7]. [3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35],[36],[37],[38],[39],[40],[41],[42],[43],[44],[45],[46],[47],[48],[49],[50],[51],[52],[53],[54],[55],[56],[57],[58],[59],[60],[61],[62],[63],[64],[65],[66],[67],[68],[69] The most commonly performed periodontal investigation in animals is experimental periodontitis that is usually induced by placement of silk ligatures around the cervical region of teeth to allow plaque formation and the ligatures are usually removed after 10 weeks or after the animals have been given a diet that allows more plaque formation. [7],[70] While animal models have provided a large amount of data, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether these findings are applicable to humans. [69] Smaller animals are more convenient for disease-associated research whereas larger animals are more appropriate for studies that target tissue healing since the dentoalveolar structure of larger animals closely resembles that of humans. [69],[70],[71] Therefore, a simple and reproducible model that truly mimics the human pathogenesis of periodontal disease is yet to be found. [69],[70],[71],[72]
Table 1: Studies involving a nonhuman primate, the monkey as an animal model for periodontal research

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Table 2: Studies involving the dog as an animal model for periodontal research

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Table 3: Studies involving the rat as an animal model for periodontal research

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Table 4: Studies involving the sheep as an animal model for periodontal research

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Table 5: Studies involving the goat as an animal model for periodontal research

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Table 6: Studies involving the rabbit as an animal model for periodontal research

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Table 7: Studies involving the pig as an animal model for periodontal research

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It is easily conceivable that almost all kinds of periodontal investigations can be conducted in mammals except for a few mammals that are short and small; the rest of the animals can be chosen for various biologic investigations. Dimensionally, the size of the jaw and teeth of humans should match with those of mammals of periodontal interest. Subjecting animals of larger size, that is, the elephant, horse, cow, and buffalo to experimentation has never been thought of. The dog is the most used animal in periodontal research for its easy availability and dimensions of the jaws and teeth. Monkey and nonhuman primates such as the chimpanzee, gorilla, and baboon are difficult to handle and not easily available, coupled with problems of caging and diet. The most popular animals for periodontal experimentation as per their levels of use are presented in [Table 8].
Table 8: Experimental animals as per their level of use in periodontal research

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   Ethical Codes for Animal Experimentation Top

There is increasing amount of concern in the society regarding the welfare of animals. There has also been a great deal of controversy surrounding the use of animals in research and testing for many years. The issue of "ethics" has been raised. Ethics, "the science of morals," is concerned with whether or not a person is justified in his/her work that may cause another to suffer. Hence, the key issue is suffering and unless it is in tune with the best interest of the animals concerned, it is considered unethical. [73],[74]

Many countries have enacted specific legislative measures for the protection of the welfare of animals used for biomedical research and for the restriction of such research to authorized persons and premises. The earliest example of a specific legislation regulating animal experimentation is the Cruelty to Animals Act of the UK that was enacted in 1876 and is still in force. [73] Currently, there are numerous nongovernmental animal welfare groups in various countries. Several European countries have enacted legislation of various degrees of specificity in relation to animal experimentation during the 1960s and 1970s. [74]

Public sensitivity to the alleged cruelty to animals can be easily accused. In the UK, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in 1924, 60 years before the establishment of a national society for the prevention of cruelty to children. [73],[74] All biomedical experiments involving harm to the experimental subject need to be justified. This is as true for experiments involving animals as it is for humans. An experiment cannot be justified if it is trivial in nature. There must be a significance in the expected results.

Animal experiments can be sanctioned if there is no alternative means of achieving the same scientific or educational objective and if the benefits to the society outweigh the costs in terms of animal harm. [73],[74] Harming the animal is highly undesirable and should not be done unless justified. Experiments can be justified if the social good derived from them actively outweighs the negative aspect of harming a sensitive creature.

It is suggested that alternative methods should be used whenever possible. Russel and Buch [75] described this alternative method that includes three components called three Rs, that is, replacement, reduction, and refinement that are described as below:

  1. Replacement: Using an experimental subject that is phylogenetically lower or using nonanimal systems. A few promising alternative methods put forward recently are in vitro techniques, tissue culture methods, use of lower organisms including microbes, tissues from slaughter or autopsy embryos, and nonanimal systems such as computers or mathematical modeling.
  2. Reduction: Before proposing to conduct an animal experimentation, efforts should be made to ascertain that the proposed animal experiment has not been done previously. Also, the minimum possible number of animals required should be used to yield meaningful data and not maximum precision.
  3. Refinement: A multitude of refinements of technique that would reduce animal harm are ready for immediate application in biomedical research.

Some experimental procedures causing pain to the animal such as those involving the use of muscle relaxant or paralytic drug alone to restrain animals are highly objectionable. Similarly, procedures such as microwave irritation and severe trauma inflicted on conscious animals should be avoided. Painful procedures should be conducted under anesthesia for the full duration of the experiment. While inducing a pathological state in animals, efforts should be made to reduce the severity and duration of condition and the disease should not be allowed to progress beyond the point required for scientific investigation. If during the experiment an irreparable injury is inflicted, the animals should be put into deep sleep by an overdose of aesthetic and "euthanasia" should be carried out. It should be a painless, quick, and humane procedure.

Appropriate preoperative care and management of the animal is important in all surgical procedures. Animals should be kept in the best possible living conditions and maintained with care by the investigators or personnel who are appropriately qualified or experienced for the purpose. Scientists are becoming increasingly familiar with the broad concept of "alternatives by the three Rs of refinement, reduction, and replacement." Though legislation can provide the framework for acceptability for animal studies, the scientist must continue to question whether pain is justifiable under any circumstances and whether the pain and distress caused by them on animals will be able to alleviate the pain and distress of any other organism.

The Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (COIMS) [76],[77] that is an international nongovernmental representative of many branches of medicine and cognate disciplines, has laid down the guiding principles to provide a conceptual ethical framework acceptable to both the international biomedical community and animal welfare groups; it has the following international guiding principles:

  • The use of animals for scientific purposes is innately undesirable.
  • Another method should be used whenever possible.
  • The use of animals in the present state of knowledge is unavoidable.
  • Scientists should have a moral obligation in designing the plan for minimal number of animals to be employed.

The guiding principles are the product of consultation with a large and representative sample of the biomedical community including experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) and representatives of animal welfare groups.

   Conclusion Top

In health science research, experiments on animals are inevitable prior to proper clinical application on humans. The choice of appropriate animals and their number for bio-statistical significance are of great consideration. For health science to progress it is needless to say animals are to be mandatorily employed and subsequently sacrificed, for various experiments. The same holds true for the field of periodontal research. It is also important that an appropriate apex body must look into the matter of indiscriminate use of animals.

In India, awareness concerning ethical issues is on the rise and has resulted in the setup of various ethical committees. Though numerous ethical committees oversee human clinical trials, there is often neglect regarding the setting up of similar bodies monitoring animal experiments.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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   Authors Top

About the author
Dr. T. K. Pal, a 1977 graduate from Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College, completed his M.D.S. in Periodontics (1980) from King George's Medical College, Lucknow, and further did his Ph.D. in Dental Implantology from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He had a post-doctoral training in Dental Implantology at New York University. He worked at Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College (1981-2002) and now heads Periodontics at Guru Nanak Institute of Dental Sciences and Research, Kolkata. He has 77 publications and delivered about 100 Memorial Orations, Keynote Addresses, Guest Lectures and also conducted Implant courses across the country. He was the President of Indian Society of Periodontology in 1994 and also served as President of West Bengal State Dental Association as well as West Bengal Dental Services Association. He was the Founder-Editor of West Bengal State Dental Journal in 1985 and member of Editorial Board in many National Journals including co-authorship of 3 textbooks. He holds the patent-right for his innovation on Titanium Dental Implant and was honored with National Republic Day Scientist Award on 26th January, 1998, by Govt. of India. He is the recipient of Dr. Y. P. Guglani Prize for 4 times and received Rotary Young Dentist Award (1997), Millennium Award (1998) and National Bite-in Award (2011) for his continued scientific endeavors. He has been cited in the Who's Who in the World (1998).


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8]


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