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Functional Morphology of the Cardiac Jelly in the Tubular Heart of Vertebrate Embryos

1,*,† and 2,†
1
Group Cardio-Embryology, Institute of Anatomy and Embryology UMG, Georg-August-University Goettingen, D-37075 Goettingen, Germany
2
Department of Cardiac Sciences, King Abdulaziz Cardiac Center, Section of Pediatric Cardiology, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, Riyadh 11426, Saudi Arabia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
This work is dedicated to the memory of our academic mentors Gerd Steding (1936–2011) and Armin Wessel (1946–2011).
J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2019, 6(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcdd6010012
Received: 29 January 2019 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 27 February 2019
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Abstract

The early embryonic heart is a multi-layered tube consisting of (1) an outer myocardial tube; (2) an inner endocardial tube; and (3) an extracellular matrix layer interposed between the myocardium and endocardium, called “cardiac jelly” (CJ). During the past decades, research on CJ has mainly focused on its molecular and cellular biological aspects. This review focuses on the morphological and biomechanical aspects of CJ. Special attention is given to (1) the spatial distribution and fiber architecture of CJ; (2) the morphological dynamics of CJ during the cardiac cycle; and (3) the removal/remodeling of CJ during advanced heart looping stages, which leads to the formation of ventricular trabeculations and endocardial cushions. CJ acts as a hydraulic skeleton, displaying striking structural and functional similarities with the mesoglea of jellyfish. CJ not only represents a filler substance, facilitating end-systolic occlusion of the embryonic heart lumen. Its elastic components antagonize the systolic deformations of the heart wall and thereby power the refilling phase of the ventricular tube. Non-uniform spatial distribution of CJ generates non-circular cross sections of the opened endocardial tube (initially elliptic, later deltoid), which seem to be advantageous for valveless pumping. Endocardial cushions/ridges are cellularized remnants of non-removed CJ. View Full-Text
Keywords: embryonic heart tube; extracellular matrix; cardiac jelly; hydraulic skeleton; heart skeleton; valveless pumping; blood flow; non-circular cross sections; ballooning; trabeculation embryonic heart tube; extracellular matrix; cardiac jelly; hydraulic skeleton; heart skeleton; valveless pumping; blood flow; non-circular cross sections; ballooning; trabeculation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Männer, J.; Yelbuz, T.M. Functional Morphology of the Cardiac Jelly in the Tubular Heart of Vertebrate Embryos. J. Cardiovasc. Dev. Dis. 2019, 6, 12.

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