ABSTRACT

Cardiac congenital disabilities are the most common organ malformations, but we still do not understand how they arise in the human embryo. Moreover, although cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death globally, the development of new therapies is lagging compared with other fields. One major bottleneck hindering progress is the lack of self-organizing human cardiac models that recapitulate key aspects of human heart development, physiology and disease. Current in vitro cardiac three-dimensional systems are either engineered constructs or spherical aggregates of cardiomyocytes and other cell types. Although tissue engineering enables the modeling of some electro-mechanical properties, it falls short of mimicking heart development, morphogenetic defects and many clinically relevant aspects of cardiomyopathies. Here, we review different approaches and recent efforts to overcome these challenges in the field using a new generation of self-organizing embryonic and cardiac organoids.

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