Unilateral posterior crossbite is a widespread, asymmetric malocclusion characterized by an inverse relationship of the upper and lower buccal dental cusps, in the molar and premolar regions, on one side only of the dental arch. Patients with unilateral posterior crossbite exhibit an altered chewing cycles and the crossbite side masseter results to be less active with respect to the contralateral one. Few studies about morphological features of masticatory muscle in malocclusion disorders exist and most of these have been performed on animal models. The aim of the present study was to evaluate morphological and protein expression characteristics of masseter muscles in patients affected by unilateral posterior crossbite, by histological and immunofluorescence techniques. We have used antibody against PAX-7, marker of satellite cells, and against α-, β-, γ-, δ-, ε- and ζ-sarcoglycans which are transmembrane glycoproteins involved in sarcolemma stabilization. By statistical analysis we have evaluated differences in amount of myonucley between contralateral and ipsilateral side. Results have shown: i) altered fibers morphology and atrophy of ipsilateral muscle if compared to the contralateral one; ii) higher number of myonuclei and PAX-7 positive cells in contralateral side than ipsilateral one; iii) higher pattern of fluorescence for all tested sarcoglycans in contralateral side than ipsilateral one. Results show that in unilateral posterior crossbite hypertrophic response of contralateral masseter and atrophic events in ipsilateral masseter take place; by that, in unilateral posterior crossbite malocclusion masticatory muscles modify their morphology depending on the function. That could be relevant in understanding and healing of malocclusion disorders; in fact, the altered balance about structure and function between ipsilateral and contralateral muscles could, long-term, lead and/ or worsen skeletal asymmetries.
Sarcoglycans; satellite cells; skeletal muscle; fluorescence antibody technique; histological techniques; confocal microscopy.