Research: The role of genes and environment in the etiology of congenital diaphragmatic hernias

Curr Top Dev Biol

. 2023;152:115-138.

 doi: 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2022.10.004. Epub 2022 Nov 23.

The role of genes and environment in the etiology of congenital diaphragmatic hernias

Nathan G Burns 1Gabrielle Kardon 2

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Structural birth defects are a common cause of abnormalities in newborns. While there are cases of structural birth defects arising due to monogenic defects or environmental exposures, many birth defects are likely caused by a complex interaction between genes and the environment. A structural birth defect with complex etiology is congenital diaphragmatic hernias (CDH), a common and often lethal disruption in diaphragm development. Mutations in more than 150 genes have been implicated in CDH pathogenesis. Although there is generally less evidence for a role for environmental factors in the etiology of CDH, deficiencies in maternal vitamin A and its derivative embryonic retinoic acid are strongly associated with CDH. However, the incomplete penetrance of CDH-implicated genes and environmental factors such as vitamin A deficiency suggest that interactions between genes and environment may be necessary to cause CDH. In this review, we examine the genetic and environmental factors implicated in diaphragm and CDH development. In addition, we evaluate the potential for gene-environment interactions in CDH etiology, focusing on the potential interactions between the CDH-implicated gene, Gata4, and maternal vitamin A deficiency.

Keywords: CDH; Congenital diaphragmatic hernia; Connective tissue; Diaphragm; Gata4; Muscle; Retinoic acid; Vitamin A.

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