Use of high-frequency ultrasound to study the prenatal development of cranial neural tube defects and hydrocephalus in Gldc -deficient mice

Maria C. Autuori, Yun J. Pai, Daniel J. Stuckey, Dawn Savery, Anna M. Marconi, Valentina Massa, Mark F. Lythgoe, Andrew J. Copp, Anna L. David, Nicholas D.E. Greene
Prenatal Diagnosis2017
OBJECTIVE We used non-invasive high frequency ultrasound (HFUS) imaging to investigate embryonic brain development in a mouse model for neural tube defects (NTDs) and Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH). METHOD Using HFUS, we imaged embryos carrying loss of function alleles of Gldc encoding glycine decarboxylase, a component of the glycine cleavage system in mitochondrial folate metabolism, which is known to be associated with cranial NTDs and NKH in humans. We serially examined the same litter during the second half of embryonic development and quantified cerebral structures. Genotype was confirmed using PCR. Histology was used to confirm ultrasound findings. RESULTS HFUS allowed in utero detection of two major brain abnormalities in Gldc-deficient mouse embryos, cranial NTDs (exencephaly) and ventriculomegaly (corresponding with the previous finding of post-natal hydrocephalus). Serial ultrasound allowed individual embryos to be analysed at successive gestational time-points. From embryonic day 16.5 to 18.5, the lateral ventricle volume reduced in wild-type and heterozygous embryos, but increased in homozygous Gldc-deficient embryos. CONCLUSION Exencephaly and ventriculomegaly were detectable by HFUS in homozygous Gldc-deficient mouse embryos indicating this to be an effective tool to study CNS development. Longitudinal analysis of the same embryo allowed the pre-natal onset and progression of ventricle enlargement in Gldc-deficient mice to be determined.

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