Flow within models of the vertebrate embryonic heart

Arvind Santhanakrishnan, Nhi Nguyen, Jennifer G. Cox, Laura A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Vertebrate cardiogenesis is believed to be partially regulated by fluid forces imposed by blood flow in addition to myocardial activity and other epigenetic factors. To understand the flow field within the embryonic heart, numerical simulations using the immersed boundary method were performed on a series of models that represent simplified versions of some of the early morphological stages of heart development. The results of the numerical study were validated using flow visualization experiments conducted on equivalent dynamically scaled physical models. The chamber and cardiac cushion (or valve) depths in the models were varied, and Reynolds numbers ranging from 0.01 to 1000 corresponding to the scale of the early heart tube to the adult heart were considered. The observed results showed that vortex formation within the chambers occurred for Reynolds numbers on the order of 1-10. This transition to vortical flow appears to be highly sensitive to the chamber and cushion depths within the model. These fluid dynamic events could be important to induce shear sensing at the endothelial surface layer which is thought to be a part of regulating the proper morphological development and functionality of the valves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-461
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 7 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Flow visualization
  • Heart chamber vortices
  • Heart development
  • Immersed boundary method
  • Valve flow reversal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Flow within models of the vertebrate embryonic heart'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this