Effect of Administration of Retinoic Acid on the Development of the Axial Skeleton in Mouse Embryos Mus musculus

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Gladys Ojeda Moris; Yocelyn López Tardón; Marcela Díaz Navarrete & Mariana Rojas Rauco


The deficit and excess of vitamin A causes birth defects affecting different organ systems. The objectives of this study are to determine the effect caused by the administration of different doses of retinoic acid on bone morphogenesis of the axial skeleton in embryonic mouse Mus musculus. By simple randomization newly pregnant females were distributed into 4 categories: A, B, C and D. On day 8 post fertilization, 40 mg/kg was administered by weight of retinoic acid to the group A, 20 mg/kg body weight of the group B solution 1 ml/kg body weight of dimethyl sulfoxide and group C. Group D is the control group. On day 17 of gestation the females and their fetuses were anesthetized and euthanized with an overdose of intraperitoneal sodium pentothal. Fetuses from each litter were processed using diaphanization and Alcian blue staining to hyaline cartilage and alizarin to observe bone tissue. The results are expressed as percentages of malformations in the following three segments: 1) cranio-cervical spine, 2) thoracic and abdominal segment and 3) pelvic segment, considering 100% when all the bony elements were compromised. Fisher's exact test for comparison of frequencies of malformations was used and considered statistically significant when p<0.05. In group A, major malformations and defects were evident in the indemnity of the cranial vault, exencephaly, defects in the number of vertebrae, and fusion of ribs. In group B minor malformations as numerical alterations and rib fusions were observed. Significant differences were found between both groups. In groups C and D no malformations were recorded. Retinoic acid administered intraperitoneally at doses of 40 and 20 mg/kg acts as a teratogen in mouse embryos. There are significant differences between the defects induced by concentrations of 40 mg/k and 20 mg/k of retinoic acid. Both concentrations affect the bones of the three segments studied (cranio cervical, thoraco-abdominal and pelvic) in a cephalo caudal gradient, independent of the embryonic origin of the structures. Changes in retinoic acid concentration alter the behavior of cranial neural crest and changing the order of the HOX gene expression in the axial skeleton.

KEY WORDS: Retinoic acid; Axial skeleton; Congenital malformations; Mus musculus; Fetus; Mouse.

How to cite this article

OJEDA, M. G.; LOPEZ, T. Y.; DIAZ, N. M. & ROJAS, R. M. Effect of administration of retinoic acid on the development of the axial skeleton in mouse embryos Mus musculus. Int. J. Morphol., 32(4):1449-1456, 2014.