Immunclocalization of Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor and Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor-1 and Receptor-2 in Rat Cranial Sutures

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Craniosynostosis is a common disorder with an unknown etiology. Recent genetic mapping studies have demonstrated a strong linkage between several familial craniosynostotic syndromes and mutations in fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGF-R1) and 2 (FGF-R2). The purpose of this experiment was to investigate by immunohistochemistry the protein production of these receptors as well as of their most prevalent ligand, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), before, during, and after sutural fusion in rat cranial sutures. The posterior frontal (normally fuses between postnatal days 12 and 22) and sagittal (remains patent) sutures of embryonic day 20 and neonatal days 6, 12, 17, 22, and 62 (n = 3 per group) were harvested, fixed, and decalcified. Five-micrometer sections were stained with polyclonal antibodies against bFGF, FGF-R1, and FGF-R2, and patterns of immunohistochemical staining were assessed by independent reviewers. Our results indicate that increased bFGF production correlates temporally with suture fusion, with increased staining of the dura underneath the fusing suture prior to fusion followed by increased staining within osteoblasts and sutural cells during fusion. FGF-R1 and, to a lesser extent, FGF-R2 immunostaining revealed a different pattern of localization with increased immunostaining within the patent sagittal suture at these time points. These results implicate bFGF in the regulation of sutural fusion and may imply autoregulatory mechanisms in fibroblast growth factor receptor expression. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 1805, 1998.)

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