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Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2014 Aug;100(8):598-607. doi: 10.1002/bdra.23264. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Midline craniofacial malformations with a lipomatous cephalocele are associated with insufficient closure of the neural tube in the tuft mouse.

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Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Physiology, University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, Hawaii.



Genetic variations affecting neural tube closure along the head result in malformations to the face and brain, posing a significant impact on health care costs and the quality of life.


We have established a mouse line from a mutation that arose spontaneously in our wild-type colony that we called tuft. Tuft mice have heritable midline craniofacial defects featuring an anterior lipomatous cephalocele.


Whole-mount skeletal stains indicated that affected newborns had a broader interfrontal suture where the cephalocele emerged between the frontal bones. Mice with a cephalocele positioned near the rostrum also presented craniofacial malformations such as ocular hypertelorism and midfacial cleft of the nose. Gross and histological examination revealed that the lipomatous cephalocele originated as a fluid filled cyst no earlier than E14.5 while embryos with a midfacial cleft was evident during craniofacial development at E11.5. Histological sections of embryos with a midfacial cleft revealed the cephalic neuroectoderm remained proximal or fused to the frontonasal ectoderm about the closure site of the anterior neuropore, indicating a defect to neural tube closure. We found the neural folds along the rostrum of E9 to E10.5 embryos curled inward and failed to close as well as embryos with exencephaly and anencephaly at later stages. Whole-mount in situ hybridization of anterior markers Fgf8 and Sonic hedgehog indicated closure of the rostral site was compromised in severe cases.


We present a model demonstrating how anterior cranial cephaloceles are generated following a defect to neural tube closure and relevance to subsequent craniofacial morphogenesis in the tuft mouse.


anencephaly; anterior cranial cephalocele; encephalocele; exencephaly; midfacial cleft; neural tube defect

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