Evolutionary Aspect of the Rhythmical System

  • Branko Furst


Individual animal phyla represent an explicit, as if “frozen in time” developmental stage of the organ system. For example, the hypoplastic left heart syndrome can be considered a developmental delay at the level of the three-chambered amphibian heart. The much rarer condition of double right ventricular outlet morphologically resembles a reptile heart. Several other cardiac developmental abnormalities exist for which a corresponding animal model can be found. The question arises whether a deeper link exists between the patterns of heart development between higher and lower vertebrates and humans? Genetic analysis of cell fate maps is one approach in exploring this question. It appears that a hierarchy of genes and their regulators trigger the development of the entire or parts of the organ systems. Growth and function of the heart form an integral part of the organism. The current theory draws on the concept of “heart field” which originated in the 1930s and has been revised in the light of current knowledge. More recently, J. Rohen refined the concept by combining these units into functional systems that are shared between simple and complex organisms alike. In this model, the sum of processes can be described by three elementary functions: (1) exchange of substance or metabolism, (2) respiration and circulation, and (3) acquisition and exchange of information. The heart with the system of vessels and the blood can therefore also be viewed functionally as a threefold organ which rhythmically mediates between the metabolic and the nerve-sense functions of the organism.


Biogenetic law Congenital heart abnormalities Genetic screens Heart field Histomeres Functional systems Functional threefoldness Nerve-sense system Rhythmic system Metabolic system Threefold cardiovascular system 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Branko Furst
    • 1
  1. 1.Professor of AnesthesiologyAlbany Medical CollegeAlbanyUSA

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