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Teratology. 1986 Oct;34(2):141-53.

Morphogenesis of isotretinoin-induced microcephaly and micrognathia studied by scanning electron microscopy.


Isotretinoin ingestion during the first trimester of human pregnancy can induce malformations of the skull, ears, face, central nervous system, eyes, palate, lungs, circulatory system, limbs, and digits. A single oral dose of isotretinoin on day 8 of gestation in hamsters induces a similar syndrome of congenital malformation. The present study concerned scanning electron microscopic (SEM) observation of embryonic and fetal hamster craniofacial structures at 4, 8, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hr after administration of an oral dose of 50 mg/kg isotretinoin or an equivalent volume of the vehicle. The variability in development among control embryos recovered 4 hr after treatment precluded objective assessment of pathologic change by SEM at very early time points. Craniofacial damage was obvious within 8-12 hr of isotretinoin treatment, and it included hypoplasia of the maxillary and mandibular processes of the first branchial arch, a rudimentary second arch, and apparent collapse of the forebrain. Equivalent fusion between the lateral nasal process and the maxillary process and between the medial nasal process and the maxillary process in treated and control embryos accounts for the very low incidence of cleft lip observed in fetuses. The terminal microstomia was not associated with excessive merging or overgrowth of the first arch components. Hypoplasia of the first arch can account for retinoid-induced macrostomia and microstomia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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