Epicardial-myocardial signaling directing coronary vasculogenesis.
The establishment of the coronary circulation is critical for the development of the embryonic heart. Over the last several years, there has been tremendous progress in elucidating the pathways that control coronary development. Interestingly, many of the pathways that regulate the development of the coronary vasculature are distinct from those governing vasculogenesis in the rest of the embryo. It is becoming increasingly clear that coronary development depends on a complex communication between the epicardium, the subepicardial mesenchyme, and the myocardium mediated in part by secreted growth factors. This communication coordinates the growth of the myocardium with the formation of the coronary vasculature. This review summarizes our present understanding of the role of these growth factors in the regulation of coronary development. Continued progress in this field holds the potential to lead to novel therapeutics for the treatment of patients with coronary artery disease.