Initial migration and distribution of the cardiac neural crest in the avian embryo: an introduction to the concept of the circumpharyngeal crest

Am J Anat. 1991 Jul;191(3):215-27. doi: 10.1002/aja.1001910302.


The distribution and migration of the cardiac neural crest was studied in chick embryos from stages 11 to 17 that were immunochemically stained in whole-mount and sectioned specimens with a monoclonal antibody, HNK-1. The following results were obtained: 1) The first phase of the migration in the cardiac crest follows the dorsolateral pathway beneath the ectoderm. 2) In the first site of arrest, the cardiac crest forms a longitudinal mass of neural-crest cells, called in the present study, the circumpharyngeal crest; this mass is located dorsolateral to the dorsal edge of the pericardium (pericardial dorsal horn) where splanchnic and somatic lateral mesoderm meet. 3) A distinctive strand of neural-crest cells, called the anterior tract, arises from the mid-otic level and ends in the circumpharyngeal crest. 4) By stage 16, after the degeneration of the first somite, another strand of neural-crest cells, called the posterior tract, appears dorsal to the circumpharyngeal crest. It forms an arch-like pathway along the anterior border of the second somite. 5) The seeding of the pharyngeal ectomesenchyme takes place before the formation of pharyngeal arches in the postotic area, i.e., the crest cells are seeded into the lateral body wall ventrally from the circumpharyngeal crest; and, by the ventral-ward regression of the pericardial dorsal horn, lateral expansion of pharyngeal pouch, and caudal regression of the pericardium, the crest cell population is pushed away by the pharyngeal pouch. Thus the pharyngeal arch ectomesenchyme is segregated. 6) By stage 14, at the occipital somite level, ventrolateral migration of the neural crest is observed within the anterior half of each somite. Some of these crest cells are continuous with the caudal portion of the circumpharyngeal crest. An early contribution to the enteric neuroblasts is apparent in this area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cardiovascular System / embryology*
  • Cell Movement
  • Chick Embryo
  • Coturnix / embryology*
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Neural Crest / embryology*
  • Pharynx / embryology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal