In hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), the mechanisms leading to left heart hypoplasia and their associated fetal abnormalities are largely unknown. Current animal models have limited utility in resolving these questions as they either do not fully reproduce the cardiac phenotype, do not survive to term, and/or have very low disease penetrance.
Here, we report the development of a surgically-induced mouse model of HLHS that overcomes these limitations. Briefly, we microinjected the fetal left atrium of embryonic day (E) 14.5 mice with an embolizing agent under high-frequency ultrasound guidance, which partially blocks blood flow into the left heart and induces hypoplasia. At term (E18.5), all positively embolized mice exhibit retrograde aortic arch flow, non-apex forming left ventricles and hypoplastic ascending aortas. We thus report the development of the first mouse model of isolated HLHS with a fully penetrant cardiac phenotype and survival to term. Our method allows for the interrogation of previously intractable questions, such as determining the mechanisms of cardiac hypoplasia and fetal abnormalities observed in HLHS, as well as testing of mechanism-based therapies which are urgently lacking.