A possible case of cherubism in a 17th-century Korean mummy

Israel Hershkovitz, Mark Spigelman, Rachel Sarig, Do Sun Lim, In Sun Lee, Chang Seok Oh, Hila May, Elisabetta Boaretto, Yi Suk Kim, Soong Deok Lee, Nathan Peled, Myeung Ju Kim, Talya Toledano, Gila Kahila Bar-Gal, Dong Hoon Shin

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9 Scopus citations


Cherubism is a benign fibro-osseous disease of childhood limited specifically to the maxilla and mandible. The progressive replacement of the jaw bones with expansile multilocular cystic lesions causes eventual prominence of the lower face, and hence the classic "cherubic" phenotype reflecting variable extents of jaw hypertrophy. Histologically, this condition has been characterized as replacement of the normal bone matrix with multicystic pockets of fibrous stroma and osteoclastic giant cells. Because of radiographic features common to both, primarily the presence of multiloculated lucencies with heterogeneous "ground-glass" sclerosis on CT imaging, cherubism was long mistaken for a craniofacial subtype of fibrous dysplasia. In 1999, however, the distinct genetic basis for cherubism was mapped to chromosome 4p16.3 and the SH-3 binding protein SH3BP2. But while there are already three suspected cases of fibrous dysplasia amongst archaeological populations, no definitive cases of cherubism have yet been reported in historical populations. In the current study we describe micro- and macro-structural changes in the face of a 17th century Joseon Dynasty Korean mummy which may coincide with the clinic-pathologic and radiologic features of cherubism.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere102441
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - 5 Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to acknowledge the Dan David Foundation, The Tassia and Dr. Joseph Meychan Chair for the History and Philosophy of Medicine, Tel Aviv University and the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2013R1A1A2009688) for their support of this project.


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