Cardiovascular - Arterial Development

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Heart Tube Fusion.jpg


The embryo stage 10 heart tube

Development of the heart and vascular system begins very early in mesoderm both within (embryonic) and outside (extra embryonic, yolk sac and placental) the embryo. Vascular development therefore occurs in many places, the most obvious though is the early forming heart, which grows rapidly creating an externally obvious cardiac "bulge" on the early embryo. The cardiovascular system is extensively remodelled throughout development, this current page discusses systemic artery development. Note that placental vessels are discussed in placental notes.

Eph-B2 (EPHB2; Eph receptor gene family; 1p36.12) has been identified as an early marker of arterial endothelium development, see the review.[1]

See also the related pages Arterial Development, Venous Development, Placental Villi Blood Vessels and Coronary Circulation Development.

Artery Histology: Artery overview label | Artery overview | Artery detail HE | Artery elastin label | Artery elastin | Artery tunica media elastic fibres | Artery elastin detail label | Artery external elastic lamina | Aorta label | Aorta elastin label | Aorta elastin | Histology Stains | Histology | Blood Vessel Development

Cardiovascular Links: cardiovascular | Heart Tutorial | Lecture - Early Vascular | Lecture - Heart | Movies | 2016 Cardiac Review | heart | coronary circulation | heart valve | heart rate | Circulation | blood | blood vessel | blood vessel histology | heart histology | Lymphatic | ductus venosus | spleen | Stage 22 | cardiovascular abnormalities | OMIM | 2012 ECHO Meeting | Category:Cardiovascular
Historic Embryology - Cardiovascular 
1902 Vena cava inferior | 1905 Brain Blood Vessels | 1909 Cervical Veins | 1909 Dorsal aorta and umbilical veins | 1912 Heart | 1912 Human Heart | 1914 Earliest Blood-Vessels | 1915 Congenital Cardiac Disease | 1915 Dura Venous Sinuses | 1916 Blood cell origin | 1916 Pars Membranacea Septi | 1919 Lower Limb Arteries | 1921 Human Brain Vascular | 1921 Spleen | 1922 Aortic-Arch System | 1922 Pig Forelimb Arteries | 1922 Chicken Pulmonary | 1923 Head Subcutaneous Plexus | 1923 Ductus Venosus | 1925 Venous Development | 1927 Stage 11 Heart | 1928 Heart Blood Flow | 1935 Aorta | 1935 Venous valves | 1938 Pars Membranacea Septi | 1938 Foramen Ovale | 1939 Atrio-Ventricular Valves | 1940 Vena cava inferior | 1940 Early Hematopoiesis | 1941 Blood Formation | 1942 Truncus and Conus Partitioning | Ziegler Heart Models | 1951 Heart Movie | 1954 Week 9 Heart | 1957 Cranial venous system | 1959 Brain Arterial Anastomoses | Historic Embryology Papers | 2012 ECHO Meeting | 2016 Cardiac Review | Historic Disclaimer

Some Recent Findings

  • Review - Congenital Aplasia of the Common Carotid Artery[2] "In an attempt to describe the morphofunctional consequences of uni- and bilateral aplasia of the common carotid artery (CCA), which is usually a vascular source of the external carotid (ECA) and internal carotid (ICA) arteries, we investigated online databases of anatomical and clinical papers published from the 18th century to the present day. We found 87 recorded cases of uni- and bilateral CCA aplasia in subjects from the first hours to the eighth decade of life, which had been discovered in 14 (known) countries. Four crucial parameters were described: the embryology of the carotid arteries, morphophysiology of the carotid arteries, CCA aplasia, and unilateral versus bilateral CCA aplasia, including history, general data, diagnosing, vascular sources, caliber, course of the separated ECA and ICA, associated vascular variants, and pathological disorders. To complete the knowledge of the morphofunctional consequences of the absence of some artery of the carotid system, and risking the possibility of repeating some words, as "carotid artery", or "carotid aplasia" and the headings from our previous article about bilateral ICA absence, this review is the first in the literature that recorded all cases of the CCA aplasia published and/or cited for the past 233 years. Main characteristic of the CCA absence is its association with 21 different diseases, among which the aneurysms were in 13.69% of cases, and 17.80% of cases were without pathology."
  • Review - Molecular identity of arteries, veins, and lymphatics[1] "Arteries, veins, and lymphatic vessels are distinguished by structural differences that correspond to their different functions. Each of these vessels is also defined by specific molecular markers that persist throughout adult life; these markers are some of the molecular determinants that control the differentiation of embryonic undifferentiated cells into arteries, veins, or lymphatics. The Eph-B4 receptor and its ligand, ephrin-B2, are critical molecular determinants of vessel identity, arising on endothelial cells early in embryonic development. Eph-B4 and ephrin-B2 continue to be expressed on adult vessels and mark vessel identity. However, after vascular surgery, vessel identity can change and is marked by altered Eph-B4 and ephrin-B2 expression. Vein grafts show loss of venous identity, with less Eph-B4 expression. Arteriovenous fistulas show gain of dual arterial-venous identity, with both Eph-B4 and ephrin-B2 expression, and manipulation of Eph-B4 improves arteriovenous fistula patency. Patches used to close arteries and veins exhibit context-dependent gain of identity, that is, patches in the arterial environment gain arterial identity, whereas patches in the venous environment gain venous identity; these results show the importance of the host infiltrating cells in determining vascular identity after vascular surgery."
  • Quantitative comparison of cerebral artery development in human embryos with other eutherians[3] "Quantitative analysis of the internal radius of the aorta and cerebral arteries in a range of eutherian mammals has been used to compare arterial flow to the developing human brain with that to the brains of non-human eutherians....The findings suggest that the developing human brain may actually receive less blood flow at embryonic sizes (less than 22 mm body length) than do other mammalian embryos of a similar body size, but that internal carotid and vertebral flow is higher in human fetuses (body length greater than 30 mm) than in developing non-humans of the same body size. Increased flow to the developing human brain relative to non-humans is achieved by simultaneous increases in both aortic and cerebral feeder artery internal calibre."
More recent papers  
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  • The displayed list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
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Search term: Arterial Embryology | Artery Development

Older papers  
These papers originally appeared in the Some Recent Findings table, but as that list grew in length have now been shuffled down to this collapsible table.

See also the Discussion Page for other references listed by year and References on this current page.

  • A detailed comparison of mouse and human cardiac development[4]


  • Human Embryology (2nd ed.) Larson Ch7 p151-188 Heart, Ch8 p189-228 Vasculature
  • The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (6th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch14: p304-349
  • Before we Are Born (5th ed.) Moore and Persaud Ch12; p241-254
  • Essentials of Human Embryology Larson Ch7 p97-122 Heart, Ch8 p123-146 Vasculature
  • Human Embryology Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald Ch13-17: p77-111


Early Artery Development
Carnegie Stage 10 Carnegie Stage 11 Carnegie Stage 12
Keibel Mall 2 539.jpg Keibel Mall 2 541.jpg Keibel Mall 2 542.jpg

Pharyngeal Arch Arteries

Pharyngeal arch arteries

In the head region of the embryo, each pharyngeal arch initially has paired arch arteries. These are extensively remodelled through development and give rise to a range of different arterial structures, as shown in the list below.

  • Arch 1 - mainly lost, form part of maxillary artery.
  • Arch 2 - stapedial arteries.
  • Arch 3 - common carotid arteries, internal carotid arteries.
  • Arch 4 - left forms part of aortic arch, right forms part right subclavian artery.
  • Arch 6 - left forms part of left pulmonary artery , right forms part of right pulmonary artery.

Links: Head Development

Renal Venous Development

The renal arterial and venous systems are also reorganised extensively throughout development with changing kidney position.

Embryo renal venous cartoon.jpg Adult renal venous cartoon.jpg
Embryo renal venous Adult renal venous

Links: Renal Development

Fetal Blood Flow

Fetal Blood Flow

Mean Late Fetal Blood Flows[5]

(8 subjects) in the major vessels of the human fetal circulation by phase contrast MRI. (median gestational age 37 weeks, age range of 30–39 weeks)

(left) Mean flows in ml/kg/min (right) Proportions of the combined ventricular output in the major vessels of the human fetal circulation by phase contrast MRI.
  • AAo - Ascending aorta
  • MPA - main pulmonary artery
  • DA - ductus arteriosus
  • PBF - pulmonary blood flow
  • DAo - descending aorta
  • UA - umbilical artery
  • UV - umbilical vein
  • IVC - inferior vena cava
  • SVC - superior vena cava
  • RA - right atrium
  • FO - foramen ovale
  • LA - left atrium
  • RV - right ventricle
  • LV - left ventricle
Cardiovascular Links: Fetal Blood Flow values | Mean Fetal Blood Flow | Proportions Ventricular Output | Ventricular Output (colour) | heart | blood | cardiovascular


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wolf K, Hu H, Isaji T & Dardik A. (2019). Molecular identity of arteries, veins, and lymphatics. J. Vasc. Surg. , 69, 253-262. PMID: 30154011 DOI.
  2. Vasović L, Trandafilović M & Vlajković S. (2019). Congenital Aplasia of the Common Carotid Artery: A Comprehensive Review. Biomed Res Int , 2019, 9896138. PMID: 31976332 DOI.
  3. Ashwell KW & Shulruf B. (2015). Quantitative comparison of cerebral artery development in human embryos with other eutherians. J. Anat. , 227, 286-96. PMID: 26183939 DOI.
  4. Krishnan A, Samtani R, Dhanantwari P, Lee E, Yamada S, Shiota K, Donofrio MT, Leatherbury L & Lo CW. (2014). A detailed comparison of mouse and human cardiac development. Pediatr. Res. , 76, 500-7. PMID: 25167202 DOI.
  5. Seed M, van Amerom JF, Yoo SJ, Al Nafisi B, Grosse-Wortmann L, Jaeggi E, Jansz MS & Macgowan CK. (2012). Feasibility of quantification of the distribution of blood flow in the normal human fetal circulation using CMR: a cross-sectional study. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson , 14, 79. PMID: 23181717 DOI.


Bonasia S, Bojanowski M & Robert T. (2020). Embryology and variations of the recurrent artery of Heubner. Neuroradiology , , . PMID: 31984434 DOI.

Kelly RG. (2012). The second heart field. Curr. Top. Dev. Biol. , 100, 33-65. PMID: 22449840 DOI.

Carmeliet P & Jain RK. (2011). Molecular mechanisms and clinical applications of angiogenesis. Nature , 473, 298-307. PMID: 21593862 DOI.

Degani S. (2008). Fetal cerebrovascular circulation: a review of prenatal ultrasound assessment. Gynecol. Obstet. Invest. , 66, 184-96. PMID: 18607112 DOI.

Tchirikov M, Schröder HJ & Hecher K. (2006). Ductus venosus shunting in the fetal venous circulation: regulatory mechanisms, diagnostic methods and medical importance. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol , 27, 452-61. PMID: 16565980 DOI.

Kiserud T. (2005). Physiology of the fetal circulation. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med , 10, 493-503. PMID: 16236564 DOI.

Kiserud T & Acharya G. (2004). The fetal circulation. Prenat. Diagn. , 24, 1049-59. PMID: 15614842 DOI.


Jiji RS & Kramer CM. (2011). Cardiovascular magnetic resonance: applications in daily practice. Cardiol Rev , 19, 246-54. PMID: 21808168 DOI.

Ribatti D & Djonov V. (2011). Angiogenesis in development and cancer today. Int. J. Dev. Biol. , 55, 343-4. PMID: 21732277 DOI.

Cammarato A, Ahrens CH, Alayari NN, Qeli E, Rucker J, Reedy MC, Zmasek CM, Gucek M, Cole RN, Van Eyk JE, Bodmer R, O'Rourke B, Bernstein SI & Foster DB. (2011). A mighty small heart: the cardiac proteome of adult Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE , 6, e18497. PMID: 21541028 DOI.

Min JK, Park H, Choi HJ, Kim Y, Pyun BJ, Agrawal V, Song BW, Jeon J, Maeng YS, Rho SS, Shim S, Chai JH, Koo BK, Hong HJ, Yun CO, Choi C, Kim YM, Hwang KC & Kwon YG. (2011). The WNT antagonist Dickkopf2 promotes angiogenesis in rodent and human endothelial cells. J. Clin. Invest. , 121, 1882-93. PMID: 21540552 DOI.

Guo C, Sun Y, Zhou B, Adam RM, Li X, Pu WT, Morrow BE, Moon A & Li X. (2011). A Tbx1-Six1/Eya1-Fgf8 genetic pathway controls mammalian cardiovascular and craniofacial morphogenesis. J. Clin. Invest. , 121, 1585-95. PMID: 21364285 DOI.

Arráez-Aybar LA, Turrero-Nogués A & Marantos-Gamarra DG. (2008). Embryonic cardiac morphometry in Carnegie stages 15-23, from the Complutense University of Madrid Institute of Embryology Human Embryo Collection. Cells Tissues Organs (Print) , 187, 211-20. PMID: 18057862 DOI.

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Additional Images

See also Category:Heart ILP and Category:Heart

Ziegler Models


  • medial striate artery - (recurrent artery of Heubner, Heubner's artery, long central artery) a branch of the anterior cerebral artery, most often arising from the A1-A2 junction (44%) or the proximal A2 segment (43%), or more rarely from the A1 segment. An embryologically early developing artery.PMID 31984434 Named after the German paediatrician Otto Heubner (1843-1926).PMID 11117858
  • ophthalmic artery - (OA) embryological development involves the carotid, stapedial, and ventral pharyngeal systems. (More? vision | PMID 31863143 | PMID 25255996)

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, June 12) Embryology Cardiovascular - Arterial Development. Retrieved from

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