Neurodevelopmental effects of teratogens on chick embryos: a model organism for human health
teratogens, neural development
The chick embryo (Gallus gallus domesticus), and its extraembryonic membranes, have been a commonly used model organism in developmental biology due to it being relatively easy to manipulate, inexpensive, and widely available. Chickens are one of the most valuable model organisms for medical and biological research and have profoundly influenced developmental biology since the 20th century. After 24 hours of development (during gastrulation), the process of neurulation begins, with the cephalic region progressing faster than the caudal region. Signalling centres release morphogen transcripts to determine axis formation of the neural tube. Complete neurulation is essential for the proper development of the brain and spinal cord. Chickens share many morphological, genetic, and biochemical similarities with humans, making them an appropriate model organism to examine teratogenic actions and effects on human development. This paper examines the impact of teratogens of differing origins: viral infection (Zika virus), environmental pollutants (cadmium), and recreational drugs (alcohol) on neural development in early chick embryos. Due to the similarities between human and chick embryonic development, researchers can correlate the findings of neural tube alterations in chickens following teratogen exposure with human congenital malformations, providing insight into their causes and mechanisms.
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