The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences


The following is the introduction to this article: The complexity of the developing and functioning heart has always intrigued scientists. One of the many ambiguous areas in the understanding of cardiac development is the role of a gelatinous substance commonly referred to as cardiac jelly, (Davis, 1924) and more recently the myocardial basement membrane (Little and Rongish, 1995). Researchers have been studying this material to determine its roles. Their studies led them to believe that this jelly-like substance may be involved in vital embryological roles including the actual morphogenesis of the heart, such as heart valve formation and pumping. When cardiac jelly was enzymatically removed, the morphology of the heart changed because cardiac jelly exerted a force on the cardiac tissues which influenced morphogenesis (Mironov et al. 2005). The components of the cardiac jelly are thought to play roles in regulating cell shape, migration, proliferation, and differentiation. They are involved in the binding of growth factors that control cell behavior and cell-to-cell communication and it is targeted in controlling gene expression and maintenance of tissue related functions. With congenital heart malformation leading human birth defects- it occurs in 1% of all births-the analysis of cardiac jelly can lead to a better understanding of the way the heart develops and runs and can ultimately lead to a technique that mends those deformities (Little and Rongish, 1995; Eisenberg and Markwald, 1995).