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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Sep 1;114(3):713-20.

Applications of a mouse model of calvarial healing: differences in regenerative abilities of juveniles and adults.

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Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5148, USA.


Young children are capable of healing large calvarial defects, whereas adults lack this endogenous osseous tissue-engineering capacity. Despite the important clinical implications, little is known about the molecular and cell biology underlying this differential ability. Traditionally, guinea pig, rabbit, and rat models have been used to study the orchestration of calvarial healing. To harness the research potential of knockout and transgenic mice, the authors developed a mouse model for calvarial healing. Nonsuture-associated parietal defects 3, 4, and 5 mm in diameter were made in both juvenile (6-day-old, n = 15) and adult (60-day-old, n = 15) mice. Calvariae were harvested after 8 weeks and analyzed radiographically and histologically. Percentage of healing was quantified using Scion Image software analysis of calvarial radiographs. A significant difference in the ability to heal calvarial defects was seen between 6-day-old and 60-day-old mice when 3-, 4-, or 5-mm defects were created. The authors' analysis revealed that juvenile mice healed a significantly greater percentage of their calvarial defects than adult mice (juvenile mean percentage of healing: 3-mm defects, 59 percent; 4-mm defects, 65 percent; 5-mm defects, 44 percent; adult mean percentage of healing: <5 percent in all groups; p < 0.05). All three defect sizes were found to be critical in the adult, whereas significant healing was seen regardless of the size of the defect in juvenile mice. The establishment of this model will facilitate further, detailed evaluation of the molecular biology underlying the different regenerative abilities of juvenile versus adult mice and enhance research into membranous bone induction by making available powerful tools such as knockout and transgenic animals.

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