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J Periodontol. 1996 May;67(5):463-71.

Pathogenesis of drug-induced gingival overgrowth. A review of studies in the rat model.

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  • 1Department of Periodontology and Endodontology, Tokushima University School of Dentistry, Japan.


Drug-induced gingival overgrowth is a side effect associated principally with 3 types of drugs: anticonvulsant (phenytoin), immunosuppressant (cyclosporine A), and various calcium channel blockers (nifedipine, verapamil, diltiazem). In this review, we describe the features of phenytoin-, cyclosporine A- and nifedipine-induced gingival overgrowth in rats and discuss factors influencing the onset and severity of these disorders. There are several features common to the gingival overgrowth induced by these drugs: 1) gingival overgrowth is more conspicuous in the buccal than in the lingual gingiva and less severe in the maxilla than in the mandible; 2) once the blood concentration of the drug reaches a certain level as a result of increasing the dose, the incidence of gingival overgrowth is 100% and its severity is dependent on the blood level, the most severe overgrowth being induced by cyclosporine A; 3) the duration of drug administration for maximal gingival overgrowth to develop is about 40 days; 4) the gingival overgrowth regresses spontaneously after discontinuing the drug; 5) accumulation of dental plaque is not essential for the onset of overgrowth, but plays a role in its severity; and 6) more severe overgrowth is induced in young than in old rats. Furthermore, male rats are more susceptible than females to nifedipine-induced gingival overgrowth. These results suggest that drug-induced gingival overgrowth in rats is dependent on the oral drug dose, blood drug level, age, and sex and that preexisting gingival inflammation is a factor relevant to its severity. Since these factors have also been suggested to be important determinants for human drug-induced gingival overgrowth, the rat model may prove valuable in the future for elucidating the molecular pathogenesis of the disorder.

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