eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-Profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2021   Volume No 44 – pages 115-132

Title: Prenatal murine skeletogenesis partially recovers from absent skeletal muscle as development progresses

Authors: V Sotiriou, Y Huang, S Ahmed, H Isaksson, NC Nowlan

Address: School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin 4, Ireland

E-mail: niamh.nowlan at

Abstract: Skeletal muscle contractions are critical for normal skeletal growth and morphogenesis but it is unclear how the detrimental effects of absent muscle on the bones and joints change over time. Joint shape and cavitation as well as rudiment length and mineralisation were assessed in multiple rudiments at two developmental stages [Theiler stage (TS)24 and TS27] in the splotch-delayed “muscle-less limb” mouse model and littermate controls. Chondrocyte morphology was quantified in 3D in the distal humerus at the same stages. As development progressed, the effects of absent muscle on all parameters except for cavitation become less severe. All major joints in muscle-less limbs were abnormally shaped at TS24, while, by TS27, most muscle-less limb joint shapes were normal or nearly normal. In contrast, any joints that were fused at TS24 did not cavitate by TS27. At TS24, chondrocytes in the distal humerus were significantly smaller in the muscle-less limbs than in controls, while by TS27, chondrocyte volume was similar between the two groups, offering a cell-level mechanism for the partial recovery in shape of muscle-less limbs. Mineralisation showed the most pronounced changes over gestation. At TS24, all muscle-less rudiments studied had less mineralisation than the controls, while at TS27, muscle-less limb rudiments had mineralisation extents equivalent to controls. In conclusion, the effects of muscle absence on prenatal murine skeletogenesis reduced in severity over gestation. Understanding how mammalian bones and joints continue to develop in an environment with abnormal fetal movements provides insights into conditions including hip dysplasia and arthrogryposis.

Keywords: Prenatal skeletal development, fetal movements, developmental biomechanics, cartilage, bone, morphogenesis, ossification, mouse.

Publication date: November 8th 2022

Article download: Pages 115-132 (PDF file)

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