Mechanobiology of dura mater growth
The process of cranial development is mediated by the dura mater, a tough connective tissue that surrounds the brain and provides structural stability. The interaction of the brain, dura mater, and skull is a crucial part of cranio-cerebral development. For instance, head size generally correlates strongly with brain size, and is often used as a low-cost assessment of cerebral volume in neurological disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder, congenital Zika syndrome, and PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome. However, the correlation has been found to be weaker than expected in some cases, potentially due to abnormal dural signaling.
The dura mater also serves as a protective barrier around the brain, and must be repaired or replaced after being opened during surgery. The selection of appropriate biomaterials for dura repair or replacement depends on careful consideration of the biomechanical and mechanobiological behavior – both instantaneous and over time – of the native tissue. To develop these understandings, research is being done in collaboration with experts on cranial morphology and in vivo imaging. We apply continuum mechanics principles like the Theory of Finite Growth and robust computational tools such as Abaqus and the FMRIB software library for our analysis. Using such approaches, we’re working to characterize the mechanobiology of the dura mater as it grows with the brain and skull in early development.
This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health via Indiana's Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute