The etiology of craniosynostosis is unknown. The elucidation of the biological pathways responsible for this disorder has been hampered by an inability to evaluate cranial sutures before, during, and after cranial suture fusion. The programmed fusion of the rat posterofrontal (PF) suture postnatally provides an excellent model to study the molecular events that occur during cranial suture fusion. Previous experiments have implicated transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) growth factors in the regulation of PF suture fusion. The purpose of these experiments was to localize the expression of high-affinity receptors for these growth factors during cranial suture fusion. Four rats were sacrificed on postnatal days 8, 12, 17, and 40 (N = 16). The PF and sagittal sutures were harvested and prepared for immunohistochemical localization of TGF-β receptor 1 and receptor 2 (Tβ-RI, Tβ-RII) protein. Results indicate that immunostaining for Tβ-RI and Tβ-RII is markedly increased in the dura mater and osteoblasts of the sutural margin of the PF suture during active suture fusion (on postnatal days 12, 17, and 40) compared with the osteoblasts and dura mater underlying the patent sagittal suture. These results, in combination with the authors' previous findings as well as studies supporting a role for TGF-β molecules in the regulation of osteogenesis, implicate TGF-β signaling in the regulation of suture fusion. The possible mechanisms of ligand-receptor interaction are discussed.
Mehrara BJ, Steinbrech DS, Saadeh PB, Gittes GK, Longaker MT. Expression of high-affinity receptors for TGF-β during rat cranial suture fusion. Ann Plast Surg 1999;42:502–508