In utero assessment of cardiovascular function in the embryonic mouse heart using high-resolution ultrasound biomicroscopy.
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Murine models are currently the preferred approach for studying the molecular mechanisms of cardiac dysfunction resulting from changes in gene expression. Transgenic and gene-targeting methods can be used to generate mice with altered cardiac size and function, and as a result, in vivo techniques are indispensible in evaluating cardiac phenotype. Traditionally, the pathologic assessment of sacrificed hearts was used to study cardiac pathophysiology in small animals. Below we describe the use of ultrasound biomicroscopy-Doppler analysis to temporally assess cardiac function in mouse embryos. Methods are described for obtaining 2D, pulsed-wave Doppler, and M-mode imaging using standard clinical cardiac ultrasound imaging planes.