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Cardiac Development: A Glimpse On Its Translational Contributions

Diego Franco, Carlos Garcia-Padilla, Jorge N. Dominguez, Estefania Lozano-Velasco, Amelia Aranega

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Cardiac development is a complex developmental process that is initiated soon after gastrulation, as two sets of precardiac mesodermal precursors are symmetrically located and subsequently fused at the embryonic midline forming the cardiac straight tube. Thereafter, the cardiac straight tube invariably bends to the right, configuring the first sign of morphological left–right asymmetry and soon thereafter the atrial and ventricular chambers are formed, expanded and progressively septated. As a consequence of all these morphogenetic processes, the fetal heart acquired a four-chambered structure having distinct inlet and outlet connections and a specialized conduction system capable of directing the electrical impulse within the fully formed heart. Over the last decades, our understanding of the morphogenetic, cellular, and molecular pathways involved in cardiac development has exponentially grown. Multiples aspects of the initial discoveries during heart formation has served as guiding tools to understand the etiology of cardiac congenital anomalies and adult cardiac pathology, as well as to enlighten novels approaches to heal the damaged heart. In this review we provide an overview of the complex cellular and molecular pathways driving heart morphogenesis and how those discoveries have provided new roads into the genetic, clinical and therapeutic management of the diseased hearts.