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Pediatr Cardiol. 2009 Jul;30(5):580-7. doi: 10.1007/s00246-008-9369-y. Epub 2009 Jan 30.

Concepts of cardiac development in retrospect.

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Heart Failure Research Center, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Recent research, enabled by powerful molecular techniques, has revolutionized our concepts of cardiac development. It was firmly established that the early heart tube gives rise to the left ventricle only, and that the remainder of the myocardium is recruited from surrounding mesoderm during subsequent development. Also, the cardiac chambers were shown not to be derived from the entire looping heart tube, but only from the myocardium at its outer curvatures. Intriguingly, many years ago, classic experimental embryological studies reached very similar conclusions. However, with the current scientific emphasis on molecular mechanisms, old morphological insights became underexposed. Since cardiac development occurs in an architecturally complex and dynamic fashion, molecular insights can only fully be exploited when placed in a proper morphological context. In this communication we present excerpts of important embryological studies of the pioneers of experimental cardiac embryology of the previous century, to relate insights from the past to current observations.

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