The epicardium is the outer skin of the mature vertebrate heart. Its embryonic origin and its possible roles in the developing and mature heart did not receive much recognition during the 19th and most of the 20th century. During the past 25 years, however, the epicardium came into the focus of developmental biology and regenerative medicine. Clinical researchers usually prefer genetically modified mouse models when they want to gain insight into developmental or pathological processes. The story of research on the embryonic epicardium, however, nicely demonstrates the value of non-mammalian species, namely avian species, for elucidating fundamental processes in embryonic and fetal development. Studies on chick and quail embryos have not only led to the identification of the primarily extracardiac source of the epicardium??presently called the proepicardium (PE)??they have also significantly contributed to our current knowledge about the developmental significance of the embryonic epicardium. In this review article, I describe three ??classical?? microsurgical experiments that have been developed for studying the developmental significance of the PE/epicardium in avian embryos (mechanical PE-blocking, PE-photoablation, orthotopic PE-grafting). Furthermore, I show how these microsurgical experiments have contributed to our current knowledge about the roles of the PE/epicardium in cardiac development. There are still some unsolved aspects in the physiology of the developing epicardium, which may be clarified with the aid of these ??classical?? microsurgical experiments.
Männer, J. (2013, June 1). Microsurgical procedures for studying the developmental significance of the proepicardium and epicardium in avian embryos: PE-blocking, PE-photoablation, and PE-grafting. Journal of Developmental Biology. MDPI Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb1010047