Craniosynostosis describes the premature pathologic partial or complete fusion of 1 or more of the cranial sutures. Over the past few decades, research on craniosynostosis has progressed from gross description of deformities to an understanding of some of the molecular etiologies behind premature suture fusion. Studies on patients with syndromic craniosynostosis have resulted in the identification of several genes, molecular events, and deformational forces involved in abnormal growth and development of the cranial vault. Conservation of craniofacial development and sequence homology between humans and other species have also led to insightful discoveries in cranial suture development. In this review, we discuss the development of the cranial vault and explain the basic science behind craniosynostosis in humans as well as in animal models and how these studies may lead to future advances in craniosynostosis treatments.
From the *Hagey Laboratory of Pediatric Regenerative Medicine Research, Department of Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division, Stanford University School of Medicine, and †Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford, California.
Received March 11, 2011.
Accepted for publication May 30, 2011.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Michael T. Longaker, MD, MBA, Hagey Pediatric Regenerative Medicine Research Laboratory, Stanford University School of Medicine, 257 Campus Dr, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305; E-mail: Longaker@stanford.edu
Drs Levi and Wan contributed equally to the manuscript.
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research grant 1 R21 DE019274-01, 1 RC2 DE020771-01, the Oak Foundation and Hagey Laboratory for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine to M.T.L. B.L was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases grant 1F32AR057302-01, and the National Endowment of Plastic Surgery.
The authors report no conflicts of interest.