A computational analysis of bone formation in the cranial vault in the mouse

Chanyoung Lee, Joan T. Richtsmeier, Reuben H. Kraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Bones of the cranial vault are formed by the differentiation of mesenchymal cells into osteoblasts on a surface that surrounds the brain, eventually forming mineralized bone. Signaling pathways causative for cell differentiation include the actions of extracellular proteins driven by information from genes. We assume that the interaction of cells and extracellular molecules, which are associated with cell differentiation, can be modeled using Turing's reaction-diffusion model, a mathematical model for pattern formation controlled by two interacting molecules (activator and inhibitor). In this study, we hypothesize that regions of high concentration of an activator develop into primary centers of ossification, the earliest sites of cranial vault bone. In addition to the Turing model, we use another diffusion equation to model a morphogen (potentially the same as the morphogen associated with formation of ossification centers) associated with bone growth. These mathematical models were solved using the finite volume method. The computational domain and model parameters are determined using a large collection of experimental data showing skull bone formation in mouse at different embryonic days in mice carrying disease causing mutations and their unaffected littermates. The results show that the relative locations of the five ossification centers that form in our model occur at the same position as those identified in experimental data. As bone grows from these ossification centers, sutures form between the bones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number00024
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Issue numberMAR
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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