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Am J Med Genet. 2001 Jul 15;101(4):382-7.

Evidence for the "midline" hypothesis in associated defects of laterality formation and multiple midline anomalies.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of South Florida, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida 33601, USA.


A male infant was liveborn at 38 weeks of gestation to a G4P1AB2, 22-year-old, mother. Polyhydramnios and multiple congenital anomalies were noted by ultrasonography; the infant died 5 min after birth. At autopsy, the infant had multiple defects of blastogenesis including midline anomalies with asplenia and abnormalities of laterality formation. The laterality defects were unusual in that they combined asplenia with hypoplastic, symmetrically unilobate lungs and bilateral hyparterial bronchi more consistent with polysplenia, abdominal situs inversus with midline stomach, symmetric liver, and left gallbladder. No intracardiac abnormalities were present, but there was azygous continuation of the inferior vena cava. Additional multiple midline defects included bronchoesophageal fistula, duodenal atresia, absence of posterior leaf of diaphragm; horseshoe adrenal gland; microcephaly; Dandy-Walker anomaly with agenesis of cerebellar vermis and occipital encephalocele; holoprosencephaly with orbital encephalocele, midline defect of the orbital plate of the skull, bilateral anophthalmia, double proboscis with bilateral choanal atresia, midline upper lip and palatal cleft; single-lobed thyroid; hypoplastic external genitalia with midline cleft of scrotum, long tapering fingers, and defects of the cranium at the sites of orbital and occipital encephaloceles. Defects of laterality frequently are associated with other complex midline anomalies, which both result from a disturbance of pattern formation during blastogenesis, i.e., the induction of the progenitor fields. The latter are the result of the establishment of upstream expression domains of growth and transcription factors and other morphogens. Many of these and other genetic systems, expressed asymmetrically around the midline, are responsible for laterality formation and are the result of upstream and subsequent downstream gene expression cascades through the expression of genes such as HOX genes; bFGF; transforming growth factor beta/activins/BMP4; WNT-1,8; and SHH.

Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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