, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 1-22
Date: 17 Feb 2011

Fluid Dynamics of Heart Development

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Abstract

The morphology, muscle mechanics, fluid dynamics, conduction properties, and molecular biology of the developing embryonic heart have received much attention in recent years due to the importance of both fluid and elastic forces in shaping the heart as well as the striking relationship between the heart’s evolution and development. Although few studies have directly addressed the connection between fluid dynamics and heart development, a number of studies suggest that fluids may play a key role in morphogenic signaling. For example, fluid shear stress may trigger biochemical cascades within the endothelial cells of the developing heart that regulate chamber and valve morphogenesis. Myocardial activity generates forces on the intracardiac blood, creating pressure gradients across the cardiac wall. These pressures may also serve as epigenetic signals. In this article, the fluid dynamics of the early stages of heart development is reviewed. The relevant work in cardiac morphology, muscle mechanics, regulatory networks, and electrophysiology is also reviewed in the context of intracardial fluid dynamics.