MicroCT and microMRI imaging of a prenatal mouse model of increased brain size

Elisabeth K.N. López, Stuart R. Stock, Makoto M. Taketo, Anjen Chenn, Matthew J. Ravosa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


There are surprisingly few experimental models of neural growth and cranial integration. This and the dearth of information regarding fetal brain development detract from a mechanistic understanding of cranial integration and its relevance to the patterning of skull form, specifically the role of encephalization on basicranial flexion. To address this shortcoming, our research uses transgenic mice expressing a stabilized form of β-catenin to isolate the effects of relative brain size on craniofacial development. These mice develop highly enlarged brains due to an increase in neural precursors, and differences between transgenic and wild-type mice are predicted to result solely from variation in brain size. Comparisons of wild-type and transgenic mice at several prenatal ages were performed using microCT (Scanco Medical MicroCT 40) and microMRI (Avance 600 WB MR spectrometer). Statistical analyses show that the larger brain of the transgenic mice is associated with a larger neurocranium and an altered basicranial morphology. However, body size and postcranial ossification do not seem to be affected by the transgene. Comparisons of the rate of postcranial and cranial ossification using microCT also point to an unexpected effect of neural growth on skull development: increased fetal encephalization may result in a compensatory decrease in the level of cranial ossification. Therefore, if other life history factors are held constant, the ontogeny of a metabolically costly structure such as a brain may occur at the expense of other cranial structures. These analyses indicate the benefits of a multifactorial approach to cranial integration using a mouse model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDevelopments in X-Ray Tomography VI
StatePublished - 2008
EventDevelopments in X-Ray Tomography VI - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 12 2008Aug 14 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherDevelopments in X-Ray Tomography VI
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Cranial morphology
  • Encephalization
  • Mouse model
  • Prenatal development
  • Transgenic
  • microCT
  • microMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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