Ultrastructural changes of collagen and elastin in human gingiva during orthodontic tooth movement

M Franchi, U D'Aloya, V De Pasquale, E Caldini, E Graziani, G Borea, A Ruggeri


After 15 days of mesializing or distalizing orthodontic treatment, 10 permanent premolars of young patients were extracted with the interdental gingiva. The connective tissues of the compressed or stretched interdental papillae were compared to that of untreated samples by light and transmission electron microscope.

Large collagen fibres bundles represented by fibrils with a banding pattern of 64 nm and a mean diameter of 75 nm were observed in compressed interdental gingiva. Several elastic fibres with a mean diameter of 950 nm were also present. In some central areas of compressed gingiva collagen fibrils longitudinally split into widely spaced microfibrils were often observed in proximity to the elastic fibres.

In stretched and untreated interdental papillae the collagen fibrils presented a mean diameter of 66 nm and 57 nm respectively. In both groups, few elastic fibres ranging in diameter 600 nm were seen. The increased size of the gingival collagen fibrils undergoing pressure and tension is indicative of remodelling of the fibrous collagen system.

The fair increase in number and size of elastic fibres in compressed gingiva suggests that the elastic fibre system takes over the place whenever a collapse of the collagenous framework occurs.

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