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  • Print publication year: 1998
  • Online publication date: May 2010

Foreword by Constance Weinstein

Summary

Several features distinguish this book from others on development of the cardiovascular system and therefore establish it as an important contribution to literature on the subject. Among these features is the careful description of the anatomy and physiology of various animal models of development commonly used in genetic and molecular biological studies of the heart and vascular system. Understanding the differences among species is crucial to proper interpretation of findings, particularly when those findings form the basis for inferences on their significance for human malformations and diseases.

A laudable emphasis on the physiology of the developing cardiovascular system appears throughout the book. This draws attention to the fact that, although form and function are closely related, function may be perturbed without visible perturbations of form, and because the physiology of the embryo and fetus differs from that of the postnatal organism, malformations may have deleterious physiological effects only after birth. The text sets out clearly that among species there are important functional differences that are reflected in the expression of proteins characteristic of the individual species and that change with maturation of the cardiovascular system. All these factors must be taken into account when considering the significance of experimental results.

To my knowledge, this is the first book to cover comparative embryology of the cardiovascular system in invertebrates and vertebrates in a text that is intended to attract readers engaged in biomedical research, closing as it does with chapters on human disease and treatment strategies. Comparative embryology is an important branch of science, and its inclusion in this book may inspire investigators to explore less commonly used models for answers to difficult questions about more complex physiological systems.