Maternal Diet Supplementation with Methyl Donors and Increased Parity Affect the Incidence of Craniofacial Defects in the Offspring ofTwisted gastrulationMutant Mice1-3

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Abstract

Diets rich in methyl-donating compounds, including folate, can provide protection against neural tube defects, but their role in preventing craniofacial defects is less clear. Mice deficient in Twisted gastrulation (TWSG1), an extracellular modulator of bone morphogenetic protein signaling, manifest both midline facial defects and jaw defects, allowing study of the effects of methyl donors on various craniofacial defects in an experimentally tractable animal model. The goal of this study was to examine the effects of maternal dietary supplementation with methyl donors on the incidence and type of craniofacial defects among Twsg1-/- offspring. Nulliparous and primiparous female mice were fed an NIH31 standard diet (control) or a methyl donor supplemented (MDS) diet (folate, vitamin B-12, betaine, and choline). Observed defects in the pups were divided into those derived mostly from the first branchial arch (BA1) (micrognathia, agnathia, cleft palate) and midline facial defects in the holoprosencephaly spectrum (cyclopia, proboscis, and anterior truncation). In the first pregnancy, offspring of mice fed the MDS diet had lower incidence of BA1-derived defects (12.8% in MDS vs. 32.5% in control; P = 0.02) but similar incidence of midline facial defects (6.4% in MDS vs. 5.2% in control; P = 1.0). Increased maternal parity was independently associated with increased incidence of craniofacial defects after adjusting for diet (from 37.7 to 59.5% in control, P = 0.04 and from 19.1 to 45.3% in MDS, P = 0.045). In conclusion, methyl donor supplementation shows protective effects against jaw defects, but not midline facial defects, and increased parity can be a risk factor for some craniofacial defects.

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