Phenotypic analysis of mutant mice is limited by lack of accurate, simple, and nondestructive in utero imaging techniques. This study evaluated the usefulness of ultrasound imaging (US) to stage fetal mouse gestational age (GA) and depict morphologic development. We imaged 16 pregnant CD-1 mice and a total of 92 fetuses with a 15-MHz US transducer from 9.5 d postcoitus (DPC) until 20.5 DPC or delivery. Parameters recorded included gestational sac dimensions, crown–rump length (CRL), biparietal diameter (BPD), thoracoabdominal diameter (TAD), onset of cardiac activity, and morphologic development. At 9.5 d DPC, all gestations appeared as rounded sacs, with a diameter (mean ± standard error) of 4.4 ± 1 mm. BPD, CRL, and GA were highly correlated. The following structures were first identifiable at the following GA: cardiac activity, 10.5 DPC; major cardiovascular structures, 11.5 DPC; limb buds, 10.5 DPC; spine, 12.5 DPC; face and skull ossification, 13.5 DPC; rib ossification, 15.5 DPC; hind- and forelimb digits, 15.5 DPC; stomach and urinary bladder, 17.5 DPC; visualization of the rhombencephalic vesicle, 13.5 DPC; and visualization of the lateral ventricles, 14.5 DPC. The echogenic lungs were distinct from the liver as early as 12.5 DPC. The circle of Willis was detectable with color Doppler as early as 13.5 DPC and was easily visualized at 15.5 DPC. We found that US provides accurate, simple staging criteria for fetal mouse gestational development after 9.5 DPC and may be a nondestructive means of documenting phenotypic alterations in mutant mice in utero.
Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.
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