Insights from cardiac development relevant to congenital defects and adult clinical anatomy


Advances made in understanding temporal changes in structure of the developing heart, along with advances in knowledge of the lineage of cardiomyocytes forming the components of cardiac chambers, permit us to draw inferences concerning substrates for arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and outflow tract tachycardias. We frame these insights in our description of the formation of cardiac chambers. Adult-like electrocardiograms can be generated by developing hearts before it is possible to recognize an anatomically discrete conduction system. Working components of the atrial and ventricular chambers, which are rapidly conducting, balloon from walls of the primary heart tube, themselves slowly conducting. Recognition of the locations of these populations of primary and secondary myocardial pools suggests that some potential myocardial substrates (those producing outflow tract tachycardias) initially had a primary phenotype. In contrast, cardiomyocytes forming pulmonary venous sleeves, substrates for many cases of atrial fibrillation, have never possessed a primary phenotype. This article is part of a JCTR special issue on Cardiac Anatomy.

Journal details

Volume 6
Issue number 2
Pages 107-117
Publication date


Type of publication

Crick labs/facilities