Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Human Heart Develops Slower Than Other Mammals

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

The walls of the human heart develop slower than other mammals, according to a new study published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface Focus.

Researchers developed the first comprehensive model of human heart development using observations of living fetal hearts. Human hearts have walls that are a disorganized jumble of tissue until late in pregnancy, despite having the shape of a fully functioning heart.

During the study, they saw four clearly defined chambers in the fetal heart from the eighth week of pregnancy and they did not find organized muscle tissue until the 20th week.

Developing a simulation of the fetal heart is critical in helping researchers understand normal heart development in the womb. This simulation could eventually open up new ways of detecting and dealing with some functional abnormalities in early pregnancies.

The researchers used scans of healthy fetuses in the womb for the study, including a mother who volunteered to have detailed weekly electrocardiography scans from 18 weeks until just before delivery.

Data gathered during the research was used for a 3D computerized model built up using information about the structure, shape and size of the different components of the heart from two types of MRI scans of dead fetuses’ hearts.

Results from the study show the human heart may develop on different timeline from other mammals. While the tissue in the walls of a pig heart develops a highly organized structure compared to the early stage of a fetus’ development, the scientists say there is little organization of the human heart’s cells until 20 weeks into pregnancy.

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