Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pathophysiology, prevention, and potential treatment of neural tube defects

Manning SM, Jennings R, Madsen JR. Pathophysiology, prevention, and potential treatment of neural tube defects. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews. 2000;6(1):6-14. Review.

Division of Newborn Medicine, Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

Neural tube defects (NTD) remain a major cause of morbidity in spite of the reduction in liveborn incidence with periconceptional folic acid. However, the etiology remains unknown. This article reviews studies that address causation and potential treatment of NTD in humans and in animal models that resemble aspects of the common human NTD. Studies of nutritional markers of vitamin B12 and folic acid support a defect in homocysteine metabolism; a thermolabile variant of methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme that remethylates homocysteine to methionine, correlates with a risk of NTD in some human populations. Numerous mouse mutant models of NTD exist, attesting to the ease of disruption of neurulation, and a genetic basis for this malformation. Of these models, the curly tail mouse mutant most closely resembles the common human NTD. Folic acid does not prevent NTD in this model; however inositol supplementation does result in a significant reduction in incidence. Recent advances in fetal surgery, and evidence from mechanically created myelomeningocele in large animals amenable to surgical intervention suggest that the handicaps associated with myelomeningocele and associated Chiari Type II malformation may be prevented by in utero NTD closure. Success will depend on preservation of neurological tissue until such intervention is possible. Further research in animal models at the genetic and cellular levels, together with technological surgical advances, provide hope that prevention of more NTD and the associated handicaps may be possible. MRDD Research Reviews 6:6-14, 2000. Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

PMID: 10899792

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