The Onset of Circulation

  • Branko Furst


It is generally assumed that the blood begins to move as soon as the heart begins its contractile activity. Evidence suggests that there is a marked variability between the first heartbeat and the movement of blood amongst the early vertebrate embryos. This points to a complex relation which exists between the first movement of plasma and the red blood cells. In order to further elucidate this intricate phenomenon, the onset of circulation in chick, mouse, and zebrafish embryos will be examined. The reviewed evidence suggests the existence of plasma flow either before, or at the beginning of contractions of the tubular heart. This primary flow or “progenitor circulation” is essentially of low-pressure type and can be compared with lymphatic flow in higher vertebrates. Its possible function is transport and distribution of erythroid progenitors produced in the yolk sac into the embryo. The timing of this event does not appear to be linked with the onset of cardiac contractions. The combination of a valveless heart and immature vessels, with incomplete endothelial lining, speak against the principle of pressure propulsion. The primary streaming should be differentiated from the secondary, oxygen-carrying circulation which assumes the role of delivering oxygen to the tissues only after a considerable delay.


Primary circulation Secondary circulation Primary myocardium Working myocardium Hemodynamic forces Chick embryo heart Mouse embryo heart Zebrafish embryo heart Flow-driven plasticity Plasma circulation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Branko Furst
    • 1
  1. 1.Professor of AnesthesiologyAlbany Medical CollegeAlbanyUSA

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