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Cells Tissues Organs. 2012;196(1):90-8. doi: 10.1159/000330789. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Some mice feature 5th pharyngeal arch arteries and double-lumen aortic arch malformations.

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Integrative Morphology Group, Center for Anatomy and Cell Biology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


A 5th pair of pharyngeal arch arteries (PAAs) has never been identified with certainty in mice. Murines in general are considered to not develop a 5th pair. If true, the significance of the mouse as a model for researching the genesis of malformations of the great intrathoracic arteries is limited. We aimed to investigate whether mouse embryos develop a 5th pair of PAAs and to identify malformations known to be caused by defective remodelling of the 5th PAAs. We employed the high-resolution episcopic microscopy method for creating digital volume data and three-dimensional (3D) computer models of the great intrathoracic arteries of 30 mouse embryos from days 12-12.5 post conception and 180 mouse fetuses from days 14.5 and 15.5 post conception. The 3D models of the fetuses were screened for the presence of a double-lumen aortic arch malformation. We identified such a malformation in 1 fetus. The 3D models of the embryos were analysed for the presence of 5th PAAs. Six of the 30 embryos (20%) showed a 5th PAA bilaterally, and an additional 9 (30%) showed a 5th PAA unilaterally. Our results prove that some mice do develop a 5th pair of PAAs. They also show that malformations which occur rarely in humans and result from defective remodelling of the left 5th PAA can be identified in mice as well. Thus, the mouse does represent an excellent model for researching the mechanisms driving PAA remodelling and the genesis of malformations of the great intrathoracic arteries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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