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Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2019 Jan;8(1):e336. doi: 10.1002/wdev.336. Epub 2018 Oct 15.

Choanal atresia and stenosis: Development and diseases of the nasal cavity.

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Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.


Proper craniofacial development in vertebrates depends on growth and fusion of the facial processes during embryogenesis. Failure of any step in this process could lead to craniofacial anomalies such as facial clefting, which has been well studied with regard to its molecular etiology and cellular pathogenesis. Nasal cavity invagination is also a critical event in proper craniofacial development, and is required for the formation of a functional nasal cavity and airway. The nasal cavity must connect the nasopharynx with the primitive choanae to complete an airway from the nostril to the nasopharynx. In contrast to orofacial clefts, defects in nasal cavity and airway formation, such as choanal atresia (CA), in which the connection between the nasal airway and nasopharynx is physically blocked, have largely been understudied. This is also true for a narrowed connection between the nasal cavity and the nasopharynx, which is known as choanal stenosis (CS). CA occurs in approximately 1 in 5,000 live births, and can present in isolation but typically arises as part of a syndrome. Despite the fact that CA and CS usually require immediate intervention, and substantially affect the quality of life of affected individuals, the etiology and pathogenesis of CA and CS have remained elusive. In this review I focus on the process of nasal cavity development with respect to forming a functional airway and discuss the cellular behavior and molecular networks governing this process. Additionally, the etiology of human CA is discussed using examples of disorders which involve CA or CS. This article is categorized under: Signaling Pathways > Cell Fate Signaling Comparative Development and Evolution > Model Systems Birth Defects > Craniofacial and Nervous System Anomalies.


choanal atresia; craniofacial defect

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