Abstract This population-based descriptive epidemiology study demonstrates that rates of conjoined twins, teratomas, neural tube defects, microcephaly, and microphthalmia in the Rivne province of Ukraine are among the highest in Europe. The province is 200 km distant from the Chornobyl site and its northern half, a region known as Polissia, is significantly polluted by ionizing radiation. The rates of neural tube defects, microcephaly and microphthalmia in Polissia are statistically significantly higher than in the rest of the province. A survey of at-birth head size showed that values were statistically smaller in males and females born in one Polissia county than among neonates born in the capital city. These observations provide clues for confirmatory and cause-effect prospective investigations. The strength of this study stems from a reliance on international standards prevalent in Europe and a decade-long population-based surveillance of congenital malformations in two distinct large populations. The limitations of this study, as those of other descriptive epidemiology investigations, is that identified cause-effect associations require further assessment by specific prospective investigations designed to address specific teratogenic factors.
Abstract Historical control data on rodent developmental toxicity studies, performed between 1994 and 2010, were obtained from 19 laboratories in Japan, including 10 pharmaceutical and chemical companies and nine contract research organizations. Rats, mice, and hamsters were used for developmental toxicity studies. Data included maternal reproductive findings at terminal cesarean sections and fetal findings including the spontaneous incidences of external, visceral, and skeletal anomalies. No noticeable differences were observed in maternal reproductive data between laboratories. Inter-laboratory variations in the incidences of fetuses with anomalies appeared to be due to differences in the selection of observation parameters, observation criteria, classification of the findings, and terminology of fetal alterations. Historical control data are useful for the appropriate interpretation of experimental results and evaluation of the effects of chemical on reproductive and developmental toxicities.
Abstract The epicardium, which is derived from the proepicardial organ (PE) as the third epithelial layer of the developing heart, is crucial for ventricular morphogenesis. An epicardial deficiency leads to a thin compact layer for the developing ventricle; however, the mechanisms leading to the impaired development of the compact layer are not well understood. Using chick embryonic hearts, we produced epicardium-deficient hearts by surgical ablation or blockade of the migration of PE and examined the mechanisms underlying a thin compact myocardium. Sarcomeric maturation (distance between Z-lines) and cardiomyocyte growth (size) were affected in the thin compact myocardium of epicardium-deficient ventricles, in which the amounts of phospho-smad2 and phospho-ERK as well as expression of transforming growth factor (TGF)β2 and fibroblast growth factor (FGF)2 were reduced. TGFβ and FGF were required for the maturation of sarcomeres and growth of cardiomyocytes in cultured ventricles. In ovo co-transfection of dominant negative (dN)-Alk5 (dN-TGFβ receptor I) and dN-FGF receptor 1 to ventricles caused a thin compact myocardium. Our results suggest that immature sarcomeres and small cardiomyocytes are the causative architectures of an epicardium-deficient thin compact layer and also that epicardium-dependent signaling mediated by TGFβ and FGF plays a role in the development of the ventricular compact layer before the onset of coronary circulation.
Abstract The frontal and parietal bones form the major part of the calvarium and their primordia appear at the basolateral region of the head and grow apically. A spontaneous loss of Foxc1 function mutant mouse, congenital hydrocephalus (Foxc1ch/ch), results in congenital hydrocephalus accompanied by defects in the apical part of the skull vault. We found that during the initiation stage of apical growth of the frontal bone primordium in the Foxc1ch/ch mouse, the Runx2 expression domain extended only to the basal side and bone sialoprotein (Bsp) and N-cadherin expression domains appeared only in the basal region. Fluorescent dye (DiI) labeling of the frontal primordium by ex-utero surgery confirmed that apical extension of the frontal bone primordium of the mouse was severely retarded, while extension to the basal side underneath the brain was largely unaffected. Consistent with this observation, decreased cell proliferation activity was seen at the apical tip but not the basal tip of the frontal bone primordium as determined by double detection of Runx2 transcripts and BrdU incorporation. Furthermore, expression of the osteogenic-related genes Bmp4 and-7 was observed only in the basal part of the meninges during the initiation period of primordium growth. These results suggest that a loss of Foxc1 function affects skull bone formation of the apical region and that Bmp expression in the meninges might influence the growth of the calvarial bone primordium.
Abstract The objective of the study was to evaluate the possible association of maternal factors with the risk of isolated true undescended testis (ITUT) diagnosed at the third postnatal month because our knowledge is limited regarding the origin of ITUT. Acute and chronic diseases with related drug treatments were compared in the mothers of 2052 cases with ITUT, 24 814 male controls without any defects and 12 082 malformed male controls with other isolated defects in the population-based large dataset of the Hungarian Case-Control Surveillance of Congenital Abnormalities, 1980–1996. Prospective medically recorded endometriosis before conception of the study pregnancy in the mothers of 39 cases was associated with a higher risk of ITUT in their sons (odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.42, 1.71–3.42). Dihydrogesterone treatment in the first trimester of pregnancy also showed association with the higher risk of ITUT but based on only five pregnant women. In conclusion, endometriosis before pregnancy may have a role in the origin of ITUT.
Abstract Here, we describe a simple in vitro neural crest cell (NCC) migration assay and the effects of all-trans-retinoic acid (RA) on NCCs. Neural tubes excised from the rhombencephalic or trunk region of day 10.5 rat embryos were cultured for 48 h to allow emigration and migration of NCCs. Migration of NCCs was measured as the change in the radius (radius ratio) calculated from the circular spread of NCCs between 24 and 48 h of culture. RA was added to the culture medium after 24 h at embryotoxic concentrations determined by rat whole embryo culture. RA (10 μM) reduced the migration of cephalic NCCs, whereas it enhanced the migration of trunk NCCs, indicating that RA has opposite effects on these two types of NCCs.
Abstract Spondylocostal dysostosis (SCD) is a very rare syndrome characterized by vertebral malformation and rib deformity. Some of the patients with SCD have other birth defects in the central nervous system, the genitourinary tract, diaphragm or heart and so forth. There have been reported SCD with complex congenital heart disease, such as pulmonary atresia, double outlet right ventricle, and d-transposition of great arteries. However, there have been no reported SCD patients with confirmed tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). Here, a patient with SCD having a very rare combination of rib defects on the right side and left-sided scoliosis, tetralogy of Fallot, and diaphragmatic spleen herniation, which had not been reported before, was described.