On the origin of haemopoietic stem cells in the avian embryo: an experimental approach

J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1975 Jun;33(3):607-19.


It is currently accepted that stem cells of the definitive blood cell lines originate from the yolk-sac blood islands. Experiments were devised to examine the validity of this theory in the avian embryo. These involved grafting two-day-old quail embryos on to chick yolk-sacs of comparable developmental stages, i.e. before or shortly after the establishment of vascularization. The conclusions of the experiments are based on the possibility of distinguishing chick cell nuclei from those of the quail. In the developing haemopoietic organs (spleen and thymus) of quail embryos grafted on to the chick and subsequently incubated for 6-11 days, all cells, whether belonging to the granulopoietic, erythropoietic or lymphopoietic series, are of quail type. Thus these organs have not been colonized by chick stem cells. On the other hand, coelomic graft experiments show that the development of these organs is indeed dependent on an extrinsic colonization by haemopoietic cells; quail spleen or thymus rudiment, developing in the coelom of a chick is populated by chick cells. Thus no incompatibility which would prevent heterospecific colonization exists in this system. It is concluded that haemopoietic stem cells of the definitive blood cell series originate from some source other than the yolk-sac, and that this source must be intra-embryonic.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / transplantation
  • Erythroblasts / cytology
  • Granulocytes / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Quail / embryology
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / embryology
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / embryology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous