Heritability of alveolar bone loss from periodontal disease in a baboon population: A pilot study

D. Douglas Miley, Mark H. Baumgartner, James M. Cheverud, Charles C. Roseman, Jeffrey Rogers, Dwight E. McLeod, Elio Reyes, Charles F. Hildebolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Reports from studies of twins, disease aggregation in families, animal models for periodontal disease, and various genetic-analysis studies have determined that genetics plays a role in the susceptibility to periodontal disease. The purpose of this pilot study is to evaluate the effect of genetics on periodontal disease by evaluating the heritability of alveolar bone loss in a captive baboon population. Methods: A collection of baboon skulls from a pedigreed colony (for which scientists and veterinarians maintain complete genealogic and veterinary records) was obtained from the Southwest National Primate Research Center, San Antonio, Texas and used in this pilot study. Measurements of alveolar bone loss were performed on 390 dry baboon skulls. A periodontal probe was used to measure alveolar bone loss. Maximum likelihood methods (designed tohandle complex genealogies) were used to determine the heritability of alveolar bone loss. This software used known pedigrees in the captive baboon sample and tested the relationship between pairwise kinship and alveolar bone loss data to determine the heritability of alveolar bone loss from periodontal disease. Results: Genetic data were available for 347 of the 390 specimens. Using age and sex as covariates, genetic analysis indicated aheritability of 35% (standard error = 20%; P = 0.01). Although genderwas not asignificant factorin periodontal disease (P = 0.96), age was highly significantly associated with periodontal disease (P <0.0001). Conclusions: In this pilot study, analysis of alveolar bone loss measurements from captive baboons indicates that bone loss increases with age and that a portion of periodontal disease risk may be caused by genetic variance. These findings provide evidence that periodontal disease is heritable in captive baboons and indicate that a larger, more-detailed study is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-580
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Periodontology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Alveolar bone loss
  • Genetics
  • Heredity
  • Papio
  • Periodontitis
  • Skull

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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