Maternal environment and craniofacial growth: geometric morphometric analysis of mandibular shape changes with in utero thyroxine overexposure in mice

Matthew J. Kesterke, Margaret A. Judd, Mark P. Mooney, Michael I. Siegel, Mohammed Elsalanty, R. Nicole Howie, Seth M. Weinberg, James J. Cray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


An estimated 3% of US pregnancies are affected by maternal thyroid dysfunction, with between one and three of every 1000 pregnancies being complicated by overactive maternal thyroid levels. Excess thyroid hormones are linked to neurological impairment and excessive craniofacial variation, affecting both endochondral and intramembranous bone. Using a geometric morphometric approach, this study evaluates the role of in utero thyroxine overexposure on the growth of offspring mandibles in a sample of 241 mice. Canonical variate analysis utilized 16 unilateral mandibular landmarks obtained from 3D micro-computed tomography to assess shape changes between unexposed controls (n = 63) and exposed mice (n = 178). By evaluating shape changes in the mandible among three age groups (15, 20 and 25 days postnatal) and different dosage levels (low, medium and high), this study found that excess maternal thyroxine alters offspring mandibular shape in both age- and dosage-dependent manners. Group differences in overall shape were significant (P < 0.001), and showed major changes in regions of the mandible associated with muscle attachment (coronoid process, gonial angle) and regions of growth largely governed by articulation with the cranial base (condyle) and occlusion (alveolus). These results compliment recent studies demonstrating that maternal thyroxine levels can alter the cranial base and cranial vault of offspring, contributing to a better understanding of both normal and abnormal mandibular development, as well as the medical implications of craniofacial growth and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-54
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018



  • bone growth
  • craniofacial growth and development
  • geometric morphometrics
  • mandible
  • maternal environment
  • thyroxine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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