• Characterization of Cardiac L-Type and T-Type Calcium Channels During Normal and Defective Chick Heart Development

      Nichols, Carol A.; Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy (2000-03)
      (First Paragraph) The human heart is vital for survival from early in embryonic development throughout life. It begins developing around the third week of gestation from a pair of endocardial tubes that fuse to form a single primitive heart tube. The single-lumen heart tube develops a series of expanded areas and infoldings that divide it into four presumptive chambers. As the embryo grows, the heart begins looping. This looping process serves to bring the four presumptive chambers into the appropriate orientation for septation. The developing heart remodels itself into four separated chambers (two atria or holding chambers, two ventricles or pumping chambers) which provide for separate systemic and pulmonary circulation at birth. In most mammals, oxygenated blood enters the left atrium through four pulmonary veins. The blood is forced into the left ventricle when the left atrium contracts. When the left ventricle contracts, blood is pumped through the aorta and carried throughout the body. Deoxygenated blood returns to the right atrium via the superior and inferior vena cavae. Blood is forced into the right ventricle by contraction of the right atrium. Blood is then pumped through the pulmonary trunk and arteries to the lungs to be re-oxygenated. The four- chambered heart is formed by the eighth week o f gestation. (Larsen, 1997; de la Cruz & Markwald, 1998).