What if the shape of our face was due to pressure experienced in the womb?

What if the shape of our face was due to pressure experienced in the womb?
What if the shape of our face was due to pressure experienced in the womb?

A team of international researchers studied the growth of mouse and frog embryos, but also of human embryonic cells cultured in the laboratory, in order to better understand how certain stem cells influence the growth and differentiation of other cells during development. Their results, published in the journal Nature Cell Biologyshow that an increase in pressurepressure Hydrostatic applied outside the embryo results in disruption of important cellular signaling pathways at the neural crest.

Embryonic induction, the driving force behind the differentiation of our cells

In the human embryo, as in that of all others vertebratesvertebrates, the face is built thanks to the cells of the neural crest — a transitional embryonic structure which becomes individualized with the appearance of the first signs of development of the nervous system. The stem cells that constitute it arise from the invasive migration of the dorsal cells of the neural tube, during which they exchange molecular signals with other cells, thus determining their final differentiation. This is called embryonic induction: through molecular signals sent by neighboring tissues, stem cells specialize during development. They can thus become bone cells, muscle cells, connective or dental tissue, and even melanocytes, responsible for skin pigmentation…

An embryo under pressure…

We understand that almost all facial cells in the embryo come from this neural crest. cephaliccephalic. Therefore, disruptions in cellular communication may be responsible for abnormalities in constructionconstruction cranio-facial, these disturbances can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and in particular physicalphysical, such as intrauterine pressure. Indeed, during the study, it was shown that pressure exerted on the blastocoel — a cavity filled with liquidliquid close to the neural tube — decreases the activity of a proteinprotein called “YAP” which, in turn, disrupts a set of moleculesmolecules signaling called “WNT”, responsible for telling the neural crest how to develop.

To summarize, pressure is a physical factor capable of reducing the efficiency of neural crest signaling in the vertebrate embryo. But when does a mother’s womb come under pressure? What is the influence of the applied pressure force? Are disturbances during development visible after birth? Researchers don’t know yet, but the results provide a better understanding of mechanical influences on the embryo, while most studies tend to focus on the influence of biochemical factors.

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