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J Anat. 2011 Apr;218(4):426-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2011.01346.x. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Morphological integration between the cranial base and the face in children and adults.

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Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of Athens, Athens, Greece.


The primary aim of the present study was to assess morphological covariation between the face and the basicranium (midline and lateral), and to evaluate patterns of integration at two specific developmental stages. A group of 71 children (6-10 years) was compared with a group of 71 adults (20-35 years). Lateral cephalometric radiographs were digitized and a total of 28 landmarks were placed on three areas; the midline cranial base, the lateral cranial base and the face. Geometric morphometric methods were applied and partial least squares analysis was used to evaluate correlation between the three shape blocks. Morphological integration was tested both with and without removing the effect of allometry. In children, mainly the midline and, to a lesser extent, the lateral cranial base were moderately correlated to the face. In adults, the correlation between the face and the midline cranial base, which ceases development earlier than the lateral base, was reduced. However, the lateral cranial base retained and even strengthened its correlation to the face. This suggests that the duration of common developmental timing is an important factor that influences integration between craniofacial structures. However, despite the apparent switch of primary roles between the cranial bases during development, the patterns of integration remained stable, thereby supporting the role of genetics over function in the establishment and development of craniofacial shape.

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