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J Craniofac Genet Dev Biol. 1987;7(3):205-17.

Retinoic acid inhibits migration of cranial neural crest cells in the cultured mouse embryo.

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Laboratory of Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.


Clinical observations have demonstrated that isotretinoin (13-cis-retinoic acid; cis-RA) is a human teratogen causing primarily heart and craniofacial malformations. Isotretinoin exposure to the early postimplantation mouse embryo in culture results in specific defects in craniofacial development that may be due to an interference in the early migration of cranial neural crest (CNC) cells [Goulding and Pratt, 1986]. The present study was designed to test this hypothesis by examining the migration of these cells in whole embryo culture. Day 8 CD-1 mouse embryos were cultured for 6-48 hr in the presence or absence of cis-RA at 2 X 10(-6) to 2 X 10(-5) M. Embryos either were fixed for light microscopy using Nichols' method for localization of CNC cells or were processed for scanning and transmission electron microscopy. At the light microscopic level, CNC cells in the mid-brain region of control embryos had migrated to the region of the first and second visceral arches after 6 hr in culture. Cis-RA interfered with this migration; CNC cells in treated embryos either did not leave the neuroepithelium (NE) or were aggregated near the NE. Autoradiographic studies indicated that cis-RA did not affect the overall viability or DNA synthesis of the CNC cells. However, at the TEM level, there was a dramatic increase in the number of cellular blebs in the CNC cells. Our results demonstrate a direct effect of 13-cis-RA on the CNC cells and suggest that this effect is due to alterations in the cell surface.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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