Cardiac progenitors of the splanchnic mesoderm (primary and secondary heart field), cardiac neural crest, and the proepicardium are the major embryonic contributors to chick heart development. Their contribution to cardiac development occurs with precise timing and regulation during such processes as primary heart tube fusion, cardiac looping and accretion, cardiac septation, and the development of the coronary vasculature. Heart development is even more complex if one follows the development of the cardiac innervation, cardiac pacemaking and conduction system, endocardial cushions, valves, and even the importance of apoptosis for proper cardiac formation. This review is meant to provide a reference guide (Table 1) on the developmental timing according to the staging of Hamburger and Hamilton (1951) (HH) of these important topics in heart development for those individuals new to a chick heart research laboratory. Even individuals outside of the heart field, who are working on a gene that is also expressed in the heart, will gain information on what to look for during chick heart development. This reference guide provides complete and easy reference to the stages involved in heart development, as well as a global perspective of how these cardiac developmental events overlap temporally and spatially, making it a good bench top companion to the many recently written in-depth cardiac reviews of the molecular aspects of cardiac development.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.