Nuclear morphological changes in gingival epithelial cells of patients with periodontitis

  • Antonija TadinEmail author
  • Lidia Gavic
  • Marija Roguljic
  • Daniel Jerkovic
  • Davor Zeljezic
Original Article



This study assessed the frequency of nuclear morphological changes in gingival epithelial cells, as a biomarker for DNA damage, in individuals with periodontitis, before and after implementation of periodontal therapy, and compared the morphology to those with healthy periodontal tissues.

Materials and methods

Exfoliated gingival cells were taken from 30 participants without periodontal destruction in any teeth and 30 participants with periodontitis before and after 45 and 90 days following treatment. Nuclear morphological changes were analyzed using the micronucleus test.


Compared with the healthy volunteers, those with periodontitis had a significant increase in the number of cells with nuclear broken eggs (P = 0.048), condensed chromatin (P = 0.015), karyolysis (P < 0.001), or binuclei (P < 0.001). In the periodontitis group, the pretreatment frequencies of cells with micronuclei (P = 0.008), binuclei (P < 0.001), karyolysis (P = 0.038), nuclear buds (P = 0.005), and condensed chromatin (P = 0.015) were significantly higher than 90 days after treatment.


Our observations suggest that periodontal disease increases the frequency of nuclear morphological changes in gingival epithelial cells and that the implementation of periodontal therapy was associated with a reduction of that number.

Clinical relevance

The micronucleus test could serve as a tool for estimating genotoxic damage in assessing the success of periodontal therapy.


DNA damage Gingiva Micronucleus test Periodontal diseases 



The authors thank Dr. Elizabeth Wager for the valuable comments and proofreading of the manuscript.

Consent to submit the manuscript and contribution

Consent to submit has been received from all authors. All authors contributed to data analysis, writing of this article, and approval of the final version for publication. R M also provided to data collection. G L also contributed to interpretation of data, while T A and Z D also contributed to the conception and design of the study.

Funding source

This study was supported by the School of Medicine, University of Split, Croatia.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest related to this study.

Ethical approval

The protocol of the study was reviewed and approved by the University’s Ethical Committee (Ethics ID No: 2181-198-03-04-15-0022). The study was conducted by the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

All participants gave their informed consent before their inclusion in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Restorative Dental Medicine and Endodontics, Study of Dental Medicine, School of MedicineSplitCroatia
  2. 2.Department for Oral Medicine and Periodontology, Study of Dental Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of SplitSplitCroatia
  3. 3.Department for Oral SurgeryClinical Hospital DubravaZagrebCroatia
  4. 4.Division for MutagenesisInstitute for Medical Research and Occupational HealthZagrebCroatia

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