Neural tube defects: a review of human and animal studies on the etiology of neural tube defects

L R Campbell, D H Dayton, G S Sohal
Teratology 1986, 34 (2): 171-87
Although neural tube defects are a common congenital anomaly, their etiology is not known. Human studies have emphasized the pathology and epidemiology of the defects and suggest that in the majority of cases the etiology is multifactorial. Factors which appear possibly to be important are genetic predisposition, maternal illness, and fetal drug exposure. Animal studies have utilized naturally occurring neural tube defects and teratologically induced lesions. No animal model has been convincingly established as the equivalent of human neural tube defects. However, animal models have allowed investigation of the mechanisms of suggested human teratogens and determination of the pathogenesis of naturally occurring animal defects. Their most important contribution has been in furthering the understanding of the normal mechanisms of neural tube closure. It may be through this understanding that the etiology of human neural tube defects will be determined.

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