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Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2004 Nov;14(8):301-7.

Architectural plan for the heart: early patterning and delineation of the chambers and the nodes.

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


During folding of the embryo, lateroanterior visceral mesoderm forms the embryonic tubular heart at the midline, just ventral to the foregut. In mice, this nascent tube contains the future left ventricle and atrioventricular canal. Mesenchymal cells subsequently recruited to the cardiac lineage at the intake and the outflow of the tube will form the atria and the right ventricle and outflow tract, respectively. Shortly after its emergence, the embryonic heart tube starts to loop, and the first signs of left ventricular chamber differentiation become visible on the outer curvature of the middle portion of the tube. Subsequently, the right ventricle differentiates cranially, and the atria caudally, while the inflow tract, atrioventricular canal, inner curvatures, and outflow tract form recognizable components flanking the chambers. The latter, nonchamber regions in turn provide signals for the formation of the cushion mesenchyme, are involved in remodeling of the heart, and form the nodes of the conduction system. This review discusses how the patterning of the heart tube relates to the localized differentiation of atrial and ventricular chambers, why some parts of the heart do not form chambers, and how this relates to the formation of the conduction system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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