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Evolution of the Sinus Venosus from Fish to Human

Department of Bioscience-Zoophysiology, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Department of Anatomy, Embryology & Physiology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, 1105AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2014, 1(1), 14-28;
Received: 1 February 2014 / Revised: 10 March 2014 / Accepted: 10 March 2014 / Published: 21 March 2014
PDF [591 KB, uploaded 21 March 2014]


The sinus venosus, the cardiac chamber upstream of the (right) atrium, is a severely underinvestigated structure. Yet, its myocardium harbors the cardiac pacemaker in all vertebrates. In human, ectopic pacemaking and subsequent pathologies may originate from sinus venosus-derived myocardium surrounding the coronary sinus and the superior caval vein. In ectothermic vertebrates, i.e., fishes, amphibians and reptiles, the sinus venosus aids atrial filling by contracting prior to the atrium (atria). This is facilitated by the sinuatrial delay of approximately the same duration as the atrioventricular delay, which facilitates atrial filling of the ventricles. In mammals, the sinuatrial delay is lost, and the sinus venosus-derived myocardium persists as an extensive myocardial sheet surrounding the caval veins, which is activated in synchrony with the myocardium of the atria. The caval vein myocardium is hardly of significance in the healthy formed heart, but we suggest that the sinus venosus functions as a chamber during development when cardiac output, heart rate, blood pressure and architecture is much more like that of ectothermic vertebrates. The remodeling of the sinus venosus in mammals may be an adaptation associated with the high heart rates necessary for postnatal endothermy. If so, the endothermic birds should exhibit a similar remodeling as mammals, which remains to be investigated. View Full-Text
Keywords: sinus venosus; heart; conduction system; evolution sinus venosus; heart; conduction system; evolution

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Jensen, B.; Boukens, B.J.D.; Wang, T.; Moorman, A.F.M.; Christoffels, V.M. Evolution of the Sinus Venosus from Fish to Human. J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2014, 1, 14-28.

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J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. EISSN 2308-3425 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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