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J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1981 Oct;65:235-56.

An experimental study of the relation of cardiac jelly to the shape of the early chick embryonic heart.


The structural roles of cardiac jelly components were examined in the early developing chick embryonic heart. Cardiac jelly matrix components were enzymically removed in situ by injecting nanogram quantities of enzymes directly into the cardiac jelly. Injection of ovine testicular hyaluronidase caused shrinkage and the heart became flaccid, but overall heart shape did not change. These responses were the result of enzymatic removal of glycosaminoglycan sugar moieties and were not due to lumenal collapse. Although purified collagenase did not cause any noticeable change, enzymes with non-specific proteolytic activity induced marked cardiac shape changes. In such hearts the dorsal mesocardium opened completely, and the myocardium as well as splanchnic mesoderm of foregut detached from their substrate and the entire heart region swelled. Consequently the shape of the heart was altered completely. The results suggested that in the normal condition the myocardial envelope was under an internal pressure due to the presence of glycosaminoglycans in the cardiac jelly space, and that some matrical non-collagenous protein components were essential to control the internal pressure. Therefore it is suggested that the internal pressure of cardiac jelly may be the direct driving force for the looping process and protein components of cardiac jelly may be important in directing the force for the morphogenetic process.

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