Purpose: To present an animal model for mucositis induced by fluorouracil in rats, and test two therapeutic options, the GaAlAs laser and topical dexamethasone, analysing them with regard to the quality and quantity of tissue alterations and comparing them with the phases of mucositis. Materials and Methods: Forty-five Wistar rats (250 g) were treated with fluorouracil (60 mg/kg) and, in order to mimic the clinical effect of chronic irritation, the palatal mucosa was irritated by superficial scratching with an 18-gauge needle. When all of the rats presented oral ulcers of mucositis, they were randomly allocated to one of three groups: group I was treated with laser (GaAlAs), group II was treated with topical dexamethasone, and group III was not treated. Excisional biopsies of the palatal mucosa were then performed, and the rats were killed. Tissue sections were stained with haematoxylin and eosin for morphological analyses, and with toluidine blue for mast-cell counts. Results: Group I specimens showed higher prevalence of ulcers, bacterial biofilm, necrosis and vascularisation, while group II specimens showed higher prevalance of granulation tissue formation. There were no significant statistical differences in the numbers of mast cells and epithelial thickness between groups. Conclusion: For the present model of mucositis, rats with palatal mucositis treated with laser (GaAlAs) showed characteristics compatible with the ulcerative phase of oral mucositis, and rats treated with topical dexamethasone showed characteristics compatible with the healing phase of mucositis. Topical dexamethasone was more efficient in the treatment of ratsí oral mucositis than the laser.
Keywords: chemotherapy, dexamethasone, low level laser, mucositis, rats