Effects of increased muscle mass on mouse sagittal suture morphology and mechanics

Craig D. Byron, James Borke, Jack Yu, David Pashley, Christopher J. Wingard, Mark Hamrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to test predicted form-function relationships between cranial suture complexity and masticatory muscle mass and biomechanics in a mouse model. Specifically, to test the hypothesis that increased masticatory muscle mass increases sagittal suture complexity, we measured the fractal dimension (FD), temporalis mass, and temporalis bite force in myostatin-deficient (GDF8-/-) mice and wild-type CD-1 mice (all male, 6 months old). Myostatin is a negative regulator of muscle mass, and myostatin-deficient mice show a marked increase in muscle mass compared to normal mice. We predicted that increased sagittal suture complexity would decrease suture stiffness. The data presented here demonstrate that increased suture complexity (measured as FD) was observed in a hypermuscular mouse model (GDF8-/-) with significantly increased temporalis muscle mass and bite forces. Hypermuscular mice were also found to possess suture connective tissue that was less stiff (i.e., underwent more displacement before failure occurred) when loaded in tension. By decreasing stiffness, suture complexity apparently helps to dissipate mechanical loads within the cranium that are related to chewing. These results suggest that cranial suture connective tissue locally adapts to functional demands of the biomechanical suture environment. As such, cranial sutures provide a novel model for studies in connective tissue mechanotransduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-684
Number of pages9
JournalAnatomical Record - Part A Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Bite force
  • Cranial sutures
  • Fractal dimension
  • GDF8
  • Mastication
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Myostatin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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