Skip to Main Content
Text size: SmallMediumLargeExtra-Large

Scientists Characterize Mesenchymal Cells from Cranial Sutures


April 25, 2007

Of the approximately 4.1 million babies who will be born in the United States this year, an estimated 20,500 will develop a condition called craniosynostosis.  It arises when one or more of the fibrous, rope-like sutures that reside between the six cranial bones prematurely fuse and lock sections of the skull tightly into place.  Because the brain continues to grow during early childhood, if left untreated, craniosynostosis can distort the shape of the skull and portions of the face as well as cause a loss of hearing, blindness, and/or mental retardation.  To better understand the causes of  craniosynostosis, a team of NIDCR supported researchers study the fusion of cranial sutures in mice.  They suspect the premature fusion involves alterations in the normal biochemical interplay between embryonic tissue called mesenchyme, from which the cranial sutures form, and a thin fibrous layer of tissue called the dura mater that undergirds the mesenchyme.  The scientists also have found that different regions of the dura mater send different developmental signals to the overlying mesenchyme.  

These leads suggest that defining in fine detail the signals between the mesenchyme and dura mater one day could provide the intellectual basis for non-invasive biological approaches to control craniosynostosis.  In the March issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the researchers take an important step in this direction.  They isolated mesenchymal cells derived from the posterofrontal and sagittal cranial sutures, cultured each group of cells separately, and later analyzed their gene expression patterns.  The scientists found clear differences in the patterns of genes expressed among the two populations of mesenchymal cells.  To their knowledge, this marks the first glimpse of the genetic programs wired into mesenchymal cells derived from cranial sutures.  According to the authors, this line of research potentially opens a new chapter in exploring the biochemical signaling that occurs during the fusion of cranial sutures. 


Share This Page

GooglePlusExternal link – please review our disclaimer

LinkedInExternal link – please review our disclaimer


This page last updated: February 26, 2014