Caudal Regression and Tracheoesophageal Malformation Induced by Adriamycin: A Novel Chick Model of VATER Association

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VATER association represents a cluster of Vertebral, Anal, Tracheo-Esophageal, Radial and Renal malformations, and caudal regression syndrome is an entity consisting of a spectrum of congenital anomalies of lower spine and hips associated with genitourinary and lower limb defects. The concurrence of various malformations may be explained by a common defect in blastogenesis, but direct evidence is yet to be accumulated. Here, by the use of autofluorescence and the teratogenic effect of adriamycin, we demonstrated that adriamycin administered to eggs of White Leghorns distributes to the caudal portion of the embryo and foregut epithelium and induces caudal regression and tracheal and pulmonary agenesis. The induction of caudal regression syndrome-like anomaly was developmental stage and dose dependent. Embryos with caudal regression demonstrated tracheoesophageal anomalies, one of the defects included in VATER association. The stages at which anomalies were produced corresponded to that of human embryos between days 22 and 26 (Carnegie stages 10–11). In view of the antitumor activity of adriamycin by intercalating to double-stranded DNA of undifferentiated cells undergoing rapid cell division, it is possible that adriamycin had preferentially attacked cells in the caudal end where pronounced proliferation takes place during this narrow period of greatest susceptibility.

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