The nervous system orchestrates and integrates craniofacial development: A Review


Development of a head is a dazzlingly complex process: a number of distinct cellular sources including cranial ecto- and endoderm, mesoderm and neural crest contribute to facial and other structures. In the head, an extremely fine-tuned developmental coordination of CNS, peripheral neural components, sensory organs and a musculo-skeletal apparatus occurs, which provides protection and functional integration. The face can to a large extent be considered as an assembly of sensory systems encased and functionally fused with appendages represented by jaws. Here we review how the developing brain, neurogenic placodes and peripheral nerves influence the morphogenesis of surrounding tissues as a part of various general integrative processes in the head. The mechanisms of this impact, as we understand it now, span from the targeted release of the morphogens necessary for shaping to providing a niche for cellular sources required in later development. In this review we also discuss the most recent findings and ideas related to how peripheral nerves and nerve-associated cells contribute to craniofacial development, including teeth, during the post- neural crest period and potentially in regeneration.

Frontiers in Physiology