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Abstract or Description

In the early embryo, a series of symmetric, paired vessels, the aortic arches, surround the foregut and distribute cardiac output to the growing embryo and fetus. During embryonic development, the arch vessels undergo large-scale asymmetric morphogenesis to form species-specific adult great vessel patterns. These transformations occur within a dynamic biomechanical environment, which can play an important role in the development of normal arch configurations or the aberrant arch morphologies associated with congenital cardiac defects. Arrested migration and rotation of the embryonic outflow tract during late stages of cardiac looping has been shown to produce both outflow tract and several arch abnormalities. Here, we investigate how changes in flow distribution due to a perturbation in the angular orientation of the embryonic outflow tract impact the morphogenesis and growth of the aortic arches. Using a combination of in vivo arch morphometry with fluorescent dye injection and hemodynamics-driven bioengineering optimization-based vascular growth modeling, we demonstrate that outflow tract orientation significantly changes during development and that the associated changes in hemodynamic load can dramatically influence downstream aortic arch patterning. Optimization reveals that balancing energy expenditure with diffusive capacity leads to multiple arch vessel patterns as seen in the embryo, while minimizing energy alone led to the single arch configuration seen in the mature arch of aorta. Our model further shows the critical importance of the orientation of the outflow tract in dictating morphogenesis to the adult single arch and accurately predicts arch IV as the dominant mature arch of aorta. These results support the hypothesis that abnormal positioning of the outflow tract during early cardiac morphogenesis may lead to congenital defects of the great vessels due to altered hemodynamic loading.





Published In

Biomechanics and modeling in mechanobiology, 11, 7, 1057-1073.