A new in utero sheep model for unilateral coronal craniosynostosis.
Several animal models have been designed in the past to analyze the pathophysiology and management of craniosynostosis, very few of which were intrauterine. Those that were interuterine had problems with either a short gestation or limited availability that prevented most researchers from using them in treatment analysis. We desired to create a biologically sound intrauterine model of craniosynostosis, using an animal with a long gestation and an early calvarial bone formation, which was easy to manipulate in utero, that could be created by any researcher studying this disorder. Using biologic data available regarding growth factors thought to be involved in bone growth and cranial suture closure, we developed a new in utero fetal lamb model for the study of craniosynostosis. Ten 70-day gestation fetal lambs (term gestation 140 days) received a midline coronal incision to expose both coronal sutures. The entire right coronal suture was then excised along with a 4-mm bony margin. In each animal, the site was packed with 25 mg of demineralized sheep bone powder augmented with 50 microg of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and 1 microg of poly-transforming growth factor-beta. The scalp was closed, and the sheep were returned to the uterus until either 90 or 140 days of gestation. Complete fusion of the right coronal suture occurred in all fetuses by 90 days gestation. In every animal, right-sided frontal bone flattening and supraorbital rim elevation were evident. Histologic analysis showed bony synostosis at the suture site without evidence of suture regeneration. By 140 days, this isolated suture fusion led to marked craniofacial abnormalities including right supraorbital rim elevation, significant frontal bone flattening, a decrease in the anterior-posterior length of the cranial vault, and flattening of the cranial base. In conclusion, we have developed a new model for the study of the secondary effects induced by the process of cranial suture fusion, which produces abnormalities seen in naturally occurring cases of isolated right coronal suture synostosis. In addition, this model confirms that isolated coronal suture fusion alone can lead to the multiple cranial and facial abnormalities seen with this disorder, even in the absence of associated cranial base suture fusions.
Stelnicki, EJ; Vanderwall, K; Hoffman, WY; Harrison, MR; Glowacki, J; Longaker, MT
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