The biological role of the paranasal sinuses is obscure, can be elucidated through a cross-sectional growth study of the maxillary sinus in miniature pigs. The maxillary sinus area was obtained from lateral cephalograms of left skull halves of 103 female miniature pigs of known ages, from newborn to 24 months. Out of several nonlinear models, the growth of the maxillary sinus was best described with the Gompertz model. The first derivative of the Gompertz curve revealed an increase in the growth rates of the maxillary sinus until 4 months, after which sinus growth slowed down. The eruption of the permanent molars did not seem to have a significant influence on this growth pattern. Furthermore, growth in maxillary sinus size in the miniature pig does not follow growth in skull size closely, which showed the highest growth rates in newborn animals. In addition, a correlation analysis revealed that the relationship between maxillary sinus area and different characteristics of the masticatory apparatus (including linear cranial dimensions, and the dry weight of the masseter and zygomatico-mandibularis muscles) were influenced greatly by skull size. These results suggest that the existence of pneumatic cavities within the mammalian skull is not satisfactorily explained solely by an architectural theory. Epigenetic factors are likely to influence the final shape of the maxillary sinus.

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