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Congenital heart defects could have their origin during very early pregnancy

Date:
December 13, 2012
Source:
University of East Anglia
Summary:
The origins of congenital heart defects could be traced right back to the first stages of embryonic development, according to a new study.
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The origins of congenital heart defects could be traced right back to the first stages of embryonic development -- according to University of East Anglia (UEA) research.

Findings published today in the journal PLOS ONE show that the beginnings of important parts of the heart can be traced to very early stages of embryo development. The research has been funded by the British Heart Foundation.

Biologists investigated chicken eggs at the gastrulation stage -- between 12 and 14 hours after fertilisation.

They found that some cells would go on to create the anterior and secondary heart fields -- after the initial formation of a primitive linear heart tube.

This method of understanding the correlation between the embryonic origin of cells and later stages of development is called 'fate mapping'.

The addition of these early cells to the growing heart is crucial as it allows the heart to develop and form other important structures including the outflow tract.

The research is the first to 'fate map' the origin of the cells which contribute to the outflow tract in early stage embryos.

Many cardiac malformations present in newborns are associated with the outflow tract and it is hoped that understanding some of the underlying causes may be helpful to affected families.

Prof Andrea Münsterberg, from the school of Biological Sciences at UEA, said: "We were researching chick embryos, but the process of development in humans is very similar. However while the gastrulation stage takes place within just a few hours in chicks, it takes a little longer in humans and happens in the third week of pregnancy.

"It is likely that what we learn in chick embryos can be applied to human development. The next step in our research will be to identify the factors, which guide these early cardiac progenitor cells to the right place at the correct time."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of East Anglia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Esther Camp, Susanne Dietrich, Andrea Münsterberg. Fate Mapping Identifies the Origin of SHF/AHF Progenitors in the Chick Primitive Streak. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51948 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051948

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University of East Anglia. "Congenital heart defects could have their origin during very early pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213171754.htm>.
University of East Anglia. (2012, December 13). Congenital heart defects could have their origin during very early pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213171754.htm
University of East Anglia. "Congenital heart defects could have their origin during very early pregnancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213171754.htm (accessed May 26, 2015).

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