Dr. John Starbuck


Down syndrome (DS) is caused by the trisomy 21 genetic disorder, which produces a unique craniofacial phenotype. The purpose of this research is to better understand how Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC) influences the development of DS craniofacial phenotypes. Ts65Dn DS mouse models have been genetically modified to have 3 copies of numerous genes found on human chromosome 21, including DYRK1A, which plays a role in bone and brain development. EGCG is a known inhibitor of Dyrk1a activity. For this study, pregnant Ts65Dn mice were treated with 200 mg/kg of ECGC twice daily on days 7 and 8 of pregnancy. It was hypothesized that EGCG treatment will reduce Dyrk1a overexpression during development resulting in a measurable improvement in craniofacial morphology. To test this hypothesis, three mouse samples were analyzed: Ts65Dn, Ts65Dn + EGCG, and euploid. Skulls were imaged using high-resolution μCT at 6 weeks after birth. Anatomical landmark coordinates were measured from μCT images using Amira software. Euclidean Distance Matrix Analysis was used to assess craniofacial shape variation among samples. Results show that EGCG improves craniofacial morphology in treated Ts65Dn mice relative to untreated baselines, but improvements vary by region for the cranial vault, face, base, and mandible. Being able to understand how EGCG influences craniofacial development on a trisomic background is the first step in finding a way to improve phenotypic development to potentially avoid health issues of the craniofacial complex associated with DS. These results suggest that EGCG could be a useful therapeutic option.

About the Author

Nicole Santana is a current senior undergraduate at UCF hoping to graduate in Summer 2019. She is a biology major who would like to pursue Veterinary School after graduation. She has been working with her mentor Dr. Starbuck for more then 2 years and has presented her project in FURC 2018 and SURE 2018. She was accepted into the SURF 2018 program at UCF and cannot believe all the opportunities UCF and research has been able to give to her. She can't wait to see what life brings next.



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