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The mammalian cranial vault largely consists of five flat bones that are joined together along their edges by soft fibrous tissues called sutures. Premature closure of the cranial sutures, craniosynostosis, can lead to serious clinical pathology unless there is surgical intervention. Research into the genetic basis of the disease has led to the development of various animal models that display this condition, e.g. mutant type Fgfr2C342Y/+ mice which display early fusion of the coronal suture (joining the parietal and frontal bones). However, whether the biomechanical properties of the mutant and wild type bones are affected has not been investigated before. Therefore, nanoindentation was used to compare the elastic modulus of cranial bone and sutures in wild type (WT) and Fgfr2C342Y/+mutant type (MT) mice during their postnatal development. Further, the variations in properties with indentation position and plane were assessed. No difference was observed in the elastic modulus of parietal bone between the WT and MT mice at postnatal (P) day 10 and 20. However, the modulus of frontal bone in the MT group was lower than the WT group at both P10 (1.39±0.30 vs. 5.32±0.68 GPa; p<0.05) and P20 (5.57±0.33 vs. 7.14±0.79 GPa; p<0.05). A wide range of values was measured along the coronal sutures for both the WT and MT samples, with no significant difference between the two groups. Findings of this study suggest that the inherent mechanical properties of the frontal bone in the mutant mice were different to the wild type mice from the same genetic background. These differences may reflect variations in the degree of biomechanical adaptation during skull growth, which could have implications for the surgical management of craniosynostosis patients.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Animals, Biomechanical Phenomena, Craniosynostoses, Elastic Modulus, Mice, Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 2, Skull