Regulation of growth and craniofacial development is controlled by the interactions of cells with each other and with the extracellular environment through signal transduction pathways that control the differentiation process by stimulating proliferation or causing cell death. Of fundamental importance to mandibular development is the neural crest, a specialized population of stem and progenitor cells which generate the bone, cartilage and conjunctive tissue of the first branchial arch.
The mandible arises by intramembranous ossification, but develops secondary cartilages as growth centers. Secondary cartilages of the mandible arise in the condylar process, in the coronoid process, angular process of the mandible, and in the intermandibular suture (mental symphysis). These are different, not only in their origins, but in their histologic organization and in their response to hormonal and mechanical factors with articular cartilages of long bones.
Because the cells that divide to effect growth and adaptation in these cartilages are of perichondrial/periosteal rather than chondrogenic origin, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate their growth are only beginning to be understood. The main differences of secondary cartilages from cartilages of the limbs and cranial base are, that condylar condroblasts arise from undifferentiated conjuntive cells and the appearance of vascular canals that cross cartilage perpendicularly and connect with the ossification zone. Collagen type I seems to be more important in this process than collagen type II.
BMP signaling maintains regulatory roles in skeletons and skeletal growth. Indian hedgehog, Sox-9, fibroblastic growth factor (FGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), are also important in mandibular growth.
This article summarizes information regarding growth factors and transcription proteins that are potential growth regulators in these secondary cartilages.
KEY WORDS: mandible, secondary cartilages, condylar cartilage, indian hedgehog, growth factors, transcription proteins, bone morphogenetic protein.
How to cite this article
MONTENEGRO, R. M. A. & ROJAS, R. M. A. Factors that regulate the morphogenesis and human mandibular growth. Int. J. Odontostomat., 1(1):7-15, 2007.