Embryonic stem cell model systems for vascular morphogenesis and cardiac disorders.
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To better understand the formation of the cardiovascular system and its disease states, models amenable to manipulation must be developed. In this article we present two models. One is a small animal model for an inflammatory disorder that can lead to heart failure. Production of this model is based on the ability of blastocyst-derived embryonic stem cells, which can be genetically altered in vitro by a technique called gene targeting, to reconstitute an entire animal when reintroduced into a blastocyst and allowed to colonize the germ line of the resulting chimeric embryo. The other model is based on the capacity of embryonic stem cells to differentiate in culture into embryo-like structures called embryoid bodies. Embryoid bodies contain angioblasts, or prevascular endothelial cells, which can be induced to undergo aspects of vascular development by manipulation of culture conditions.