Histology atlas of the developing mouse heart with emphasis on E11.5 to E18.5

Toxicol Pathol. 2009 Jun;37(4):395-414. doi: 10.1177/0192623309335060. Epub 2009 Apr 9.


In humans, congenital heart diseases are common. Since the rapid progression of transgenic technologies, the mouse has become the major animal model of defective cardiovascular development. Moreover, genetically modified mice frequently die in utero, commonly due to abnormal cardiovascular development. A variety of publications address specific developmental stages or structures of the mouse heart, but a single reference reviewing and describing the anatomy and histology of cardiac developmental events, stage by stage, has not been available. The aim of this color atlas, which demonstrates embryonic/fetal heart development, is to provide a tool for pathologists and biomedical scientists to use for detailed histological evaluation of hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained sections of the developing mouse heart with emphasis on embryonic days (E) 11.5-18.5. The selected images illustrate the main structures and developmental events at each stage and serve as reference material for the confirmation of the chronological age of the embryo/early fetus and assist in the identification of any abnormalities. An extensive review of the literature covering cardiac development pre-E11.5 is summarized in the introduction. Although the focus of this atlas is on the descriptive anatomic and histological development of the normal mouse heart from E11.5 to E18.5, potential embryonic cardiac lesions are discussed with a list of the most common transgenic pre- and perinatal heart defects. Representative images of hearts at E11.5-15.5 and E18.5 are provided in Figures 2-4, 6, 8, and 9. A complete set of labeled images (Figures E11.5-18.5) is available on the CD enclosed in this issue of Toxicologic Pathology. All digital images can be viewed online at https://niehsimages.epl-inc.com with the username "ToxPath" and the password "embryohearts."

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy, Cross-Sectional
  • Animals
  • Atlases as Topic
  • Cardiovascular System / anatomy & histology
  • Cardiovascular System / embryology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fetal Heart / anatomy & histology*
  • Fetal Heart / embryology
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Heart Diseases / embryology
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Medical Illustration
  • Mice