Laterality defects in humans, situs inversus and heterotaxy, are rare disorders, with an incidence of 1:8000 to 1:10 000 in the general population, and a multifactorial etiology. It has been proved that 1.44/10 000 of all cardiac problems are associated with malformations of left-right asymmetry and heterotaxy accounts for 3% of all congenital heart defects. It is considered that defects of situs appear due to genetic and environmental factors. Also, there is evidence that the ciliopathies (defects of structure or function) are involved in development abnormalities. Over 100 genes have been reported to be involved in left-right patterning in model organisms, but only a few are likely to candidate for left-right asymmetry defects in humans. Left-right asymmetry disorders are genetically heterogeneous and have variable manifestations (from asymptomatic to serious clinical problems). The discovery of the right mechanism of left-right development will help explain the clinical complexity and may contribute to a therapy of these disorders.


situs inversus, heterotaxy syndrome, left-right asymmetry determination factors, Nodal, Kartagener syndrome