GDF-8 (myostatin) is a negative growth regulator of skeletal muscle, and myostatin-deficient mice are hypermuscular. Muscle size and force production are thought to influence growth of the craniofacial skeleton. To test this relationship, we compared masticatory muscle size and craniofacial dimensions in myostatin-deficient and wild-type CD-1 control mice. Myostatin-deficient mice had significantly (p < 0.01) greater body (by 18%) and masseter muscle weight (by 83%), compared with wild-type controls. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were noted for cranial vault length, maxillary length, mandibular body length, and mandibular shape index. Significant correlations were noted between masseter muscle weight and mandibular body length (r = 0.68; p < 0.01), cranial vault length (r = -0.57; p < 0.05), and the mandibular shape index (r = -0.56; p < 0.05). Masticatory hypermuscularity resulted in significantly altered craniofacial morphology, probably through altered biomechanical stress. These findings emphasize the important role that masticatory muscle function plays in the ontogeny of the cranial vault, the maxilla, and, most notably, the mandible.
- Craniofacial growth
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