Cardiac Structures in Marine Animals Provide Insight on Potential Directions for Interventions for Pediatric Congenital Heart Defects.

American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Emilia Mitova, Carin Wittnich


Despite recent advances in pediatric diagnosis and surgical intervention, mortality and morbidity continue to be a prevalent issue in both Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Therefore, novel approaches to studying both of these conditions is warranted. Investigating cardiac anatomical features of different species in the animal kingdom similar to the defects and complications present in ToF and HLHS (as well as others) could serve as a new avenue for improving the management of congenital heart diseases (CHD). This review reveals that although structures found in HLHS and ToF are pathological, similar structures are found in diving mammals and reptiles that are adaptive. Pathologic aortic dilation in CHD resembles the aortic bulb present in diving mammals, but the latter is more elastic and distensible compared to the former. The unrepaired HLHS heart resembles the univentricular heart of non-crocodilian reptiles. Right ventricle hypertrophy is pathological in HLHS and ToF, but adaptive in crocodilians and diving mammals. Lastly, the increased pulmonary resistance due to pulmonary stenosis in ToF is comparable to increased pulmonary resistance in crocodilians due to the presence of an active v...Continue Reading

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