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Folia Morphol (Warsz). 2018 Aug 29. doi: 10.5603/FM.a2018.0077. [Epub ahead of print]

Observations of fetal heart veins draining directly into the left and right atria.

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Department of Anatomy, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Korea, Republic Of.


Evaluation of semiserial sections of 14 normal hearts from human fetuses of gestational age 25-33 weeks showed that all of these hearts contained thin veins draining directly into the atria (maximum, 10 veins per heart). Of the 75 veins in these 14 hearts, 55 emptied into the right atrium and 20 into the left atrium. These veins were not accompanied by nerves, in contrast to tributaries of the great cardiac vein, and were negative for both smooth muscle actin (SMA) and CD34. However, the epithelium and venous wall of the anterior cardiac vein, the thickest of the direct draining veins, were strongly positive for SMA and CD34, respectively. In general, developing fibers in the vascular wall were positive for CD34, while the endothelium of the arteries and veins was strongly positive for the present DAKO antibody of SMA. The small cardiac vein, a thin but permanent tributary of the terminal portion of the great cardiac vein, was also positive for SMA and CD34. A few S100 protein-positive nerves were observed along both the anterior and small cardiac veins, but no nerves accompanied the direct drainage veins. These findings suggested that the latter did not develop from the early epicardiac vascular plexus but from a gulfing of the intratrabecular space or sinus of the atria. However, the immunoreactivity of the anterior cardiac vein suggests that it originated from the vascular plexus, similar to tributaries of the great cardiac vein.


CD34; anterior cardiac vein; great cardiac vein; human fetuses; smooth muscle actin; venae cordis minimae

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