Craniosynostosis, the premature fusion of cranial bones, has traditionally been described as a disease of increased bone mineralization. However, multiple mouse models of craniosynostosis display craniosynostosis simultaneously with diminished cranial bone volume and/or density. We propose an alternative hypothesis that craniosynostosis results from abnormal tissue mineralization through the downregulation of tissue-non-specific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) enzyme downstream of activating mutations in FGFRs.Material and Methods —
Neonatal Crouzon (FGFRC342Y/+) and wild-type (FGFR+/+) mice were injected with lentivirus to deliver a recombinant form of TNAP. Mice were sacrificed at 4 weeks postnatal. Serum was collected to test for alkaline phosphatase (AP), phosphorus, and calcium levels. Craniofacial bone fusion and morphology were assessed by micro-computed tomography.Results —
Injection with the TNAP lentivirus significantly increased serum AP levels (increased serum AP levels are indicative of efficient transduction and production of the recombinant protein), but results were variable and dependent upon viral lot and the litter of mice injected. Morphological analysis revealed craniofacial form differences for inferior surface (p = 0.023) and cranial height (p = 0.014) regions between TNAP lentivirus-injected and vehicle-injected Crouzon mice. With each unit increase in AP level, the odds of lambdoid suture fusion decreased by 84.2% and these results came close to statistical significance (p = 0.068).Conclusion —
These results suggest that TNAP deficiency may mediate FGFR2-associated craniosynostosis. Future studies should incorporate injection of recombinant TNAP protein, to avoid potential side effects and variable efficacy of lentiviral gene delivery.