The driving mechanism for unidirectional blood flow in the tubular embryonic heart

Pavel Kozlovsky, Robert J Bryson-Richardson, Ariel J Jaffa, Moshe Rosenfeld, David Elad

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10 Citations (Scopus)


The embryonic heart of vertebrate embryos, including humans, has a tubular thick-wall structure when it first starts to beat. The tubular embryonic heart (TEH) does not have valves, and yet, it produces an effective unidirectional blood flow. The actual pumping mechanism of the TEH is still controversial with pros and cons for either peristaltic pumping (PP) or impedance pumping (IP). On the other hand, observation of movies of the contractile TEH of the quail revealed a propagating wave from the venous end towards the arterial end that occludes the lumen behind the leading edge. This pattern of contraction represents a complex PP with a duty cycle, and was defined here as biological pumping (BP). In this work we developed a heart-like model that represents the main features of the chick TEH and allows for numerical analysis of all the three pumping mechanisms (i.e., IP, PP, and BP) as well as a comprehensive sensitivity evaluation of the structural, operating, and mechanical parameters. The physical model also included components representing the whole circulatory system of the TEH. The simulations results revealed that the BP mechanism yielded the level and time-dependent pattern of blood flow and blood pressure, as well as contractility that were observed in experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3069-3083
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Embryonic heart
  • Fluid–Structure Interaction
  • Impedance pumping
  • Peristaltic pumping
  • Valveless pumping

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