Prenatal cardiovascular shunts in amniotic vertebrates

Edward M. Dzialowski*, Tushar Sirsat, Saskia van der Sterren, Eduardo Villamor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

During amniotic vertebrate development, the embryo and fetus employ a number of cardiovascular shunts. These shunts provide a right-to-left shunt of blood and are essential components of embryonic life ensuring proper blood circulation to developing organs and fetal gas exchanger, as well as bypassing the pulmonary circuit and the unventilated, fluid filled lungs. In this review we examine and compare the embryonic shunts available for fetal mammals and embryonic reptiles, including lizards, crocodilians, and birds. These groups have either a single ductus arteriosus (mammals) or paired ductus arteriosi that provide a right-to-left shunt of right ventricular output away from the unventilated lungs. The mammalian foramen ovale and the avian atrial foramina function as a right-to-left shunt of blood between the atria. The presence of atrial shunts in non-avian reptiles is unknown. Mammals have a venous shunt, the ductus venosus that diverts umbilical venous return away from the liver and towards the inferior vena cava and foramen ovale. Reptiles do not have a ductus venosus during the latter two thirds of development. While the fetal shunts are well characterized in numerous mammalian species, much less is known about the developmental physiology of the reptilian embryonic shunts. In the last years, the reactivity and the process of closure of the ductus arteriosus have been characterized in the chicken and the emu. In contrast, much less is known about embryonic shunts in the non-avian reptiles. It is possible that the single ventricle found in lizards, snakes, and turtles and the origin of the left aorta in the crocodilians play a significant role in the right-to-left embryonic shunt in these species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-74
JournalRespiratory physiology & neurobiology
Volume178
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2011

Keywords

  • Ductus arteriosus
  • Ductus venosus
  • Cardiovascular shunt
  • Reptile
  • Foramen ovale
  • Mammal

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