Apoptosis in the pattern formation of the ventricular wall during mouse heart organogenesis

Eltyeb Abdelwahid*, Lauri J. Pelliniemi, Harri Niinikoski, Olli Simell, Juhani Tuominen, Otto Rahkonen, Eero Jokinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Apoptosis is an important mechanism in organogenesis, but its role in heart development has been poorly characterized. We have here studied apoptosis in the developing ventricular wall of mouse embryonic heart. Developing mice hearts on days 11 to 16 of gestation were studied using in situ end-labeling of degraded DNA (TUNEL), immunocytochemistry of regulatory genes Bcl-2 and Bax, and light and electron microscopy. TUNEL end-labeled apoptotic cells were found in the ventricular wall on days 11 to 16 of gestation. The proportions of apoptotic cells of all cells in the ventricular wall differed between the trabecular and compact regions (P = 0.003) and between the days of gestation (P = 0.0001), the calculated apoptotic index was greater in the compact region at all ages except day 14. Ultrastructural analysis showed typical apoptotic shrinkage, chromatin degradation, and apoptotic bodies in several myoblastic and myocardial endothelial cells which were also positive by DNA end-labeling. Immunocytochemical reaction for the apoptosis checkpoint proteins in the ventricular wall showed clearly more Bcl-2 positive cells than Bax positive cells. The numerical densities of all cells in the compact and trabecular regions remained always higher in the compact region (P = 0.04) despite the fact that apoptosis was present in both areas at the same time. In conclusion, apoptosis takes place in the developing myocardial muscle as well as the myocardial endothelium during ventricular morphogenesis on days 11 through 16 and decreases clearly on day 16. We suggest that apoptosis and its regulatory factors are closely involved in the morphogenesis of the ventricular wall of the mammalian heart.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-217
Number of pages10
JournalThe Anatomical Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 1999


  • Apoptosis
  • Heart development
  • Mice
  • Myoblasts
  • Ventricular wall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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