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Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2013 Jul;2(4):499-530. doi: 10.1002/wdev.98. Epub 2013 Feb 19.

Cardiac outflow tract anomalies.

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Developmental Biology and Neonatal Medicine Program, HB Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


The mature outflow tract (OFT) is, in basic terms, a short conduit. It is a simple, although vital, connection situated between contracting muscular heart chambers and a vast embryonic vascular network. Unfortunately, it is also a focal point underlying many multifactorial congenital heart defects (CHDs). Through the use of various animal models combined with human genetic investigations, we are beginning to comprehend the molecular and cellular framework that controls OFT morphogenesis. Clear roles of neural crest cells (NCC) and second heart field (SHF) derivatives have been established during OFT formation and remodeling. The challenge now is to determine how the SHF and cardiac NCC interact, the complex reciprocal signaling that appears to be occurring at various stages of OFT morphogenesis, and finally how endocardial progenitors and primary heart field (PHF) communicate with both these colonizing extra-cardiac lineages. Although we are beginning to understand that this dance of progenitor populations is wonderfully intricate, the underlying pathogenesis and the spatiotemporal cell lineage interactions remain to be fully elucidated. What is now clear is that OFT alignment and septation are independent processes, invested via separate SHF and cardiac neural crest (CNC) lineages. This review will focus on our current understanding of the respective contributions of the SHF and CNC lineage during OFT development and pathogenesis.

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