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Science reveals why the heart is on the left side and why it is essential that it be so



Unlike what happens with the appearance of the human being which turns out to be symmetrical; the human being has two legs, two arms, two hands, two eyes, etc., the interior of humans is quite asymmetrical, with the heart placed on the left, or the liver located on the right side.

However, these organs were not always in that place.

During the gestation of the human embryo, organs such as the heart begin to develop in the center of the body and, little by little, they move to their final position. It is not a casual movement, of course, and the process by which this type of organs knows how far to move is a question that scientists have been asking for a long time.

How does the hearth know where it needs to be in the body?

To try and understand the asymmetrical nature f the positions of human organs, researchers from the Institute of Neurosciences of Alicante, offered a series of details that are key to understanding the process of heart formation in human embryos.

In short, it is a “push” that prevents congenital malformations.

“Until now it was assumed that, in order to create asymmetry in the embryo, there were certain signs on the left side which were repressed in the right side. However, we have found that in addition, there are certain genes that are expressed more on the right side, and these genes are responsible for cell movements, which have shown to be more prominent from right to left, “wrote Angela Nieto, a CSIC researcher.

After studying chicken, fish and mouse embryos, scientists were able to verify that during cardiac development there are two groups of cells that are incorporated from the right and from the left. It happens that the cells on the right are much more numerous and end up pushing the heart to the left.

This curious movement is of vital importance for the proper development of veins and arteries.

If it does not occur, then one of the most serious heart conditions is generated: mesocardia, which occurs when the heart does not move to the left and remains in the center of the body. In dextrocardia, for example, the heart moves to the right side.

In an unrelated study, Sudipto Roy of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore, an author of a review of left-right asymmetry that was published in the journal Open Biology, said: “Visible signs of left-right asymmetry in the human body are apparent around six weeks.”

Source: Nature; A right-handed signalling pathway drives heart looping in vertebrates

Featured image credit: Shutterstock

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