Mouse embryos exposed to 2,3,7,8-tetrachloridedibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) develop cleft palates and hydronephrosis. Cleft palates occur after TCDD exposure due to contact and/or fusion failure. We investigated whether cleft palate can be induced by dissociation of the palatine process after fusion. Pregnant mice on gestational day (GD) 12 were randomly divided into two groups: one group was administered through gastric tubes one dose of olive oil (control group) and the other group was administered one dose of TCDD diluted with olive oil, both at a dose of 40 μg/kg body weight. Embryos were removed by cesarean section from pregnant mice during the palatal formation stage (GD 13-18) and the palatal form was observed using a stereoscopic microscope. In TCDD-exposed embryos, palatal fusion was observed on GD 14, 15 and 16 and the incidence of cleft palate was 100% on GD 18. Fusion rates were 17.5 ± 15.2% and 12.4 ± 11.8% on GD 15 and 16, respectively. Some palates from the TCDD-exposed mouse embryos showed clearly developed cleft palate after fusion of the lateral palatine processes during palatal formation. A mass of cells, which were chiefly epithelial in the fused palates was observed in the TCDD-exposed mouse embryos. A decrease in E-cadherin expression was observed in this mass of cells, indicating its involvement in the development of cleft palate.
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