, Volume 14, Issue 12, pp 1472-1483
Date: 31 Mar 2009

Diabetes and apoptosis: neural crest cells and neural tube

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Birth defects resulting from diabetic pregnancy are associated with apoptosis of a critical mass of progenitor cells early during the formation of the affected organ(s). Insufficient expression of genes that regulate viability of the progenitor cells is responsible for the apoptosis. In particular, maternal diabetes inhibits expression of a gene, Pax3, that encodes a transcription factor which is expressed in neural crest and neuroepithelial cells. As a result of insufficient Pax3, cardiac neural crest and neuroepithelial cells undergo apoptosis by a process dependent on the p53 tumor suppressor protein. This, then provides a cellular explanation for the cardiac outflow tract and neural tube and defects induced by diabetic pregnancy.