Micro-computed tomography assessment of vertebral column defects in retinoic acid-induced rat model of myelomeningocele.Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol 2014; 100(6):453-62BD
Myelomeningocele (MMC) is a common congenital malformation and the most severe form of spina bifida characterized by the protrusion of spinal cord and meninges through the spinal defect. Our objective was to improve the assessment of congenital vertebral defects in animal models of MMC using three-dimensional high resolution micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) imaging and quantitative digital analyses methods.
Lumbosacral MMC was induced in fetal rats by exposure of pregnant mothers at embryonic day 10 (E10) to all-trans retinoic acid, and rats were examined at term (embryonic day 22). The axial skeleton was examined in an MMC model for the first time using ex vivo micro-CT at 10 μm voxel resolution to allow high resolution two-dimensional and three-dimensional characterization of anomalies in lumbosacral vertebrae, and quantitative assessment of distances between dorsal vertebral arches in lumbosacral regions in MMC rats, compared with normal controls.
We observed, in detail, skeletal defects in lumbosacral vertebra of MMC rats, including in the morphology of individual dorsal vertebral arches. Use of high resolution micro-CT has also enabled us to identify the delayed (nonfused) or absent ossification in vertebral bodies, increased fusion of adjacent lateral vertebral elements, and quantify the extent of dorsal arch widening. Distances between dorsal vertebral arches showed statistically significant increases from L5 through S4 in MMC rats, compared with normal controls.
High-resolution micro-CT combined with digital quantification methods is a powerful technique ideally suited for precise assessment of complex congenital skeletal abnormalities such as examined in this rodent model of MMC.