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Cardiovasc Res. 1999 Mar;41(3):663-71.

Rate of coronary vascularization during embryonic chicken development is influenced by the rate of myocardial growth.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.



We tested the hypothesis that the degree of coronary microvessel formation in the embryonic heart is regulated by the magnitude of myocardial growth.


The outflow tract of Hamburger-Hamilton stage 21 chicken hearts (prior to the onset of coronary vasculogenesis) was constricted in ovo with a loop of 10-0-nylon suture, and the hearts were studied at stages 29 and 36.


At stage 29 ventricular mass was 64% greater in the pressure-overloaded than in the hearts of sham-operated controls, but vascular volume density and numerical density, determined by electron microscopic morphometry, were identical. As demonstrated by histological morphometric evaluation, the compact region of the left ventricle at stage 29 was 43% thicker than the shams. However, by stage 36 heart mass, thickness of the compact region, and overall wall thickness (demonstrated by scanning electron microscopy) were significantly less than in the sham group of this stage, but vascular volume density was virtually identical in the two groups. Formation of the two main coronary arteries was clearly impeded in the banded hearts, i.e., the coronaries were stunted in their development or failed to completely form coronary ostia.


Vascular growth is proportional to myocardial growth in the embryonic, overloaded heart, but the persistence of the pressure overload results in a failure of or severe limitations in coronary artery development. These data support the hypothesis that vascular growth during this period of development is regulated, at least in part, by the rate and magnitude of myocardial growth.

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