Characterization of subtle brain abnormalities in a mouse model of Hedgehog pathway antagonist-induced cleft lip and palate.


Subtle behavioral and cognitive deficits have been documented in patient cohorts with orofacial clefts (OFCs). Recent neuroimaging studies argue that these traits are associated with structural brain abnormalities but have been limited to adolescent and adult populations where brain plasticity during infancy and childhood may be a confounding factor. Here, we employed high resolution magnetic resonance microscopy to examine primary brain morphology in a mouse model of OFCs. Transient in utero exposure to the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway antagonist cyclopamine resulted in a spectrum of facial dysmorphology, including unilateral and bilateral cleft lip and palate, cleft of the secondary palate only, and a non-cleft phenotype marked by midfacial hypoplasia. Relative to controls, cyclopamine-exposed fetuses exhibited volumetric differences in several brain regions, including hypoplasia of the pituitary gland and olfactory bulbs, hyperplasia of the forebrain septal region, and expansion of the third ventricle. However, in affected fetuses the corpus callosum was intact and normal division of the forebrain was observed. This argues that temporally-specific Hh signaling perturbation can result in typical appearing OFCs in the absence of holoprosencephaly--a condition classically associated with Hh pathway inhibition and frequently co-occurring with OFCs. Supporting the premise that some forms of OFCs co-occur with subtle brain malformations, these results provide a possible ontological basis for traits identified in clinical populations. They also argue in favor of future investigations into genetic and/or environmental modulation of the Hh pathway in the etiopathogenesis of orofacial clefting.





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Publication Info

Lipinski, Robert J, Hunter T Holloway, Shonagh K O'Leary-Moore, Jacob J Ament, Stephen J Pecevich, Gary P Cofer, Francois Budin, Joshua L Everson, et al. (2014). Characterization of subtle brain abnormalities in a mouse model of Hedgehog pathway antagonist-induced cleft lip and palate. PLoS One, 9(7). p. e102603. 10.1371/journal.pone.0102603 Retrieved from

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Hunter T Holloway

Consulting Associate in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

G. Allan Johnson

Charles E. Putman University Distinguished Professor of Radiology

Dr. Johnson is the Charles E. Putman University Professor of Radiology, Professor of Physics, and Biomedical Engineering, and Director of the Duke Center for In Vivo Microscopy (CIVM). The CIVM is an NIH/NIBIB national Biomedical Technology Resource Center with a mission to develop novel technologies for preclinical imaging (basic sciences) and apply the technologies to critical biomedical questions. Dr. Johnson was one of the first researchers to bring Paul Lauterbur's vision of magnetic resonance (MR) microscopy to practice as described in his paper, "Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging at microscopic resolution" (J Magn Reson 68:129-137, 1986). Dr. Johnson is involved in both the engineering physics required to extend the resolution of MR imaging and in a broad range of applications in the basic sciences.

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