Cardiogenesis: An Embryological Perspective
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Cardiogenesis, considered as the formation of new heart tissue from embryonic, postnatal, or adult cardiac progenitors, is a pivotal concept to understand the rationale of advanced therapies to repair the damaged heart. In this review, we focus on the cellular and molecular regulation of cardiogenesis in the developing embryo, and we dissect the complex interactions that control the diversification and maturation of a variety of cardiac cell lineages. Our aim is to show how the sophisticated anatomical structure of the adult four-chambered heart strongly depends on the fine regulation of the differentiation of cardiac progenitor cells. These events are shown to be progressive and dynamic as well as plastic, so that the patterned differentiation of distinct heart domains is highly dependent on signals provided by nonmyocardial heart components and extracardiac tissues. Finally, we present the core of our knowledge on cardiac embryogenesis in a biomedical context to provide a critical analysis on the logic of cell therapies designed to treat the failing heart.