Development of aortic and mitral valve continuity in the human embryonic heart

S. I. Teal, G. W. Moore, G. M. Hutchins

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    The anatomic relationship of the aortic and mitral valves is a useful landmark in assessing congenital heart malformations. The atrioventricular and semilunar valve regions originate in widely separated parts of the early embryonic heart tube, and the process by which the normal fibrous continuity between the aortic and mitral valves is acquired has not been clearly defined. The development of the aortic and mitral valve relationship was studied in normal human embryos in the Carnegie Embryological Collection, and specimens of Carnegie stages 13, 15, 17, 19, and 23, prepared as serial histologic sections cut in the sagittal plane, were selected for reconstruction. In stage 13, the atrioventricular valve area is separated from the semilunar valve area by the large bend between the atrioventricular and outflow-tract components of the single lumen heart tube created by the left interventricular sulcus. In stages 15 and 17, the aortic valve rotates into a position near the atrioventricular valves with development of four chambers and a double circulation. In stage 19, there is fusion of aortic and mitral endocardial cushion material along the endocardial surface of the interventricular flange, and this relationship is maintained in subsequent stages. Determination of three-dimensional Cartesian coordinates of the midpoints of valve positions shows that, while there is growth of intervalvular distances up to stage 17, the aortic to mitral distance is essentially unchanged thereafter. During the period studied, the left ventricle increases in length over threefold. The relative lack of growth in the saddle-shaped fold between the atrioventricular and outflow tract components of the heart, contrasting with the rapid growth of the outwardly convex components of most of the atrial and ventricular walls, may be attributed to the different mechanical properties of the two configurations. It is postulated that the pathogenesis of congenital heart malformations, which characteristically have failure of development of aortic and mitral valve continuity, may involve abnormalities of rotation of the aortic region or malpositioning of the fold in the heart tube.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)447-460
    Number of pages14
    JournalAmerican Journal of Anatomy
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 1986


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anatomy

    Cite this

    Teal, S. I., Moore, G. W., & Hutchins, G. M. (1986). Development of aortic and mitral valve continuity in the human embryonic heart. American Journal of Anatomy, 176(4), 447-460.