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Keywords:

  • vasculogenesis;
  • angiogenesis;
  • arteriogenesis;
  • epicardium

Abstract

Recent studies have provided insights into specific events that contribute to vasculogenesis and angiogenesis in the developing coronary vasculature. This study focused on the developmental progression of coronary vascularization beginning with tube formation and ending with the establishment of a coronary arterial tree. We used electron microscopy, histology of serial sections, and immunohistochemistry in order to provide a comprehensive view of coronary vessel formation during the embryonic and fetal periods of the quail heart, a species that has been used in a number of studies addressing myocardial vascularization. Our data reveal features of progenitor cells and blood islands, tubular formation, and the anatomical relationship of a transformed periarterial tubular network and sympathetic ganglia to the emergence and branching of the right and left coronary arteries. We have traced the pattern of coronary artery branching and documented its innervation. Finally, our data include the relationship of fibronectin, laminin, and apoptosis to coronary artery growth. Our findings bring together morphological events that occur over the embryonic and fetal periods and provide a baseline for studies into the mechanisms that regulate the various events that occur during these time periods. Anat Rec Part A, 288A:989–999, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.