Imaging techniques for visualizing and phenotyping congenital heart defects in murine models

Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2013 Jun;99(2):93-105. doi: 10.1002/bdrc.21037.


Mouse model is ideal for investigating the genetic and developmental etiology of congenital heart disease. However, cardiovascular phenotyping for the precise diagnosis of structural heart defects in mice remain challenging. With rapid advances in imaging techniques, there are now high throughput phenotyping tools available for the diagnosis of structural heart defects. In this review, we discuss the efficacy of four different imaging modalities for congenital heart disease diagnosis in fetal/neonatal mice, including noninvasive fetal echocardiography, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), micro-magnetic resonance imaging (micro-MRI), and episcopic fluorescence image capture (EFIC) histopathology. The experience we have gained in the use of these imaging modalities in a large-scale mouse mutagenesis screen have validated their efficacy for congenital heart defect diagnosis in the tiny hearts of fetal and newborn mice. These cutting edge phenotyping tools will be invaluable for furthering our understanding of the developmental etiology of congenital heart disease.

Keywords: congenital heart defect; imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cardiovascular System / diagnostic imaging
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Fetus / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnostic imaging*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods