Author(s): Padmanabhan R
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Abstract Caudal regression syndrome (CRS) comprises developmental anomalies of the caudal vertebrae, neural tube, urogenital and digestive organs, and hind limbs, the precursors of all of which are derived from the caudal eminence. Although the syndrome is well recognized, the etiology and pathogenetic mechanisms are poorly understood. Genetic and experimental models may provide some important clues to the early events that precede the dysmorphogenesis in CRS. The objectives of this study were to determine the susceptible stages for induction of CRS and to ascertain the early events that precede the development of this syndrome in a mouse model. Single oral doses of 100, 150, or 200 mg/kg retinoic acid (RA) were administered to TO mice on one of Gestation Days (GD) 8 to 12, and fetuses were observed on GD 18. All doses administered on GD 8 or 9 resulted in CRS in a large number of survivors. Agenesis of the tail, caudal vertebral defects, spina bifida occulta/aperta, imperforate anus, rectovesicle or rectourethral fistula, renal malformations, cryptorchidism, gastroschisis, and limb malformations, including the classical mermaid syndrome (sirenomelia), were characteristic features of this animal model. Several craniofacial malformations accompanied CRS in the GD 8 treatment group. Chronologic examination of treated embryos at early stages revealed pronounced cell death in the caudal median axis, hindgut, and neural tube and consequently, failure of development of the tail bud in the high-dose groups. In the 100 mg/kg RA group, patches of hemorrhage occurred initially that subsequently coalesced into large hematomas and the tail progressively regressed. Histologic examination revealed the onset and progression of hemorrhage, edema, and cell death in these embryos. Transillumination and histologic preparations also revealed dilation of the caudal neural tube in the prospective CRS embryos. Thus, a combination of cell death, vascular disruption, and tissue deficiency appears to be the highlight of caudal regression in this model. Symmelia appeared to be due to failure of fission or due to the merger of limb fields rather than a result of fusion of two limb buds. The data are also indicative of caudal agenesis in the high-dose RA groups and caudal regression due to a combination of vascular disruption, edema, and cell death in the lower dose groups of TO mouse embryos.
This article was published in Reprod Toxicol
and referenced in Human Genetics & Embryology