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Circulation. 1995 Jan 1;91(1):111-21.

Formation of the tricuspid valve in the human heart.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Some of the problems concerning the origin of the inlet component of the definitive right ventricle were resolved in a previous study in which we showed it to be derived exclusively from the embryonic right ventricle. Questions remain, however, concerning the relative contributions of endocardial cushion tissue and myocardium to the definitive valvar apparatus guarding the right atrioventricular orifice and the origin of the valvar leaflets.


The formation of the tricuspid valve was studied by scanning electron microscopic and immunohistochemical techniques. Concurrent with the development of the right atrioventricular connection, a myocardial ridge forms at the boundary between the atrioventricular canal and the embryonic right ventricle. It grows to become a myocardial gully that funnels atrial blood beneath the lesser curvature of the initial heart tube toward the middle of the right ventricle. Fenestrations in the floor of the gully create an additional inferior opening in the funnel, transforming its initial anterior rim into the septomarginal trabeculation. The septum formed by the fusion of the endocardial ridges of the outflow tract becomes myocardialized in its inferior portion to form, in part, the outlet septum and, in part, the supraventricular crest. The smooth atrial surface of the tricuspid valvar leaflets develops from endocardial cushion tissue. The leaflets become freely movable, however, only after delamination of the tension apparatus within the myocardium. The inferior and septal leaflets derive from the gully and the ventricular septum, their delamination being a single, continuous process. The antero-superior leaflet forms by delamination from the developing supraventricular crest.


The leaflets of the tricuspid valve develop equally from the endocardial cushion tissues and the myocardium. The myocardium contributing to the valve comes from two sources, the tricuspid gully complex and the developing supraventricular crest. These findings facilitate the understanding of several congenital malformations.

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