Mechanical forces are essential contributors to and unavoidable components of cardiac formation, both inducing and orchestrating local and global molecular and cellular changes. Experimental animal studies have contributed substantially to understanding the mechanobiology of heart development. More recent integration of high-resolution imaging modalities with computational modeling has greatly improved our quantitative understanding of hemodynamic flow in heart development. Merging these latest experimental technologies with molecular and genetic signaling analysis will accelerate our understanding of the relationships integrating mechanical and biological signaling for proper cardiac formation. These advances will likely be essential for clinically translatable guidance for targeted interventions to rescue malforming hearts and/or reconfigure malformed circulations for optimal performance. This review summarizes our current understanding on the levels of mechanical signaling in the heart and their roles in orchestrating cardiac development.
Keywords: congenital heart defects; heart development; hemodynamics; mechanotransduction; shear stress.