Evaluation of the roles of intrinsic and extrinsic factors in occlusion of the spinal neurocoel during rapid brain enlargement in the chick embryo

J Embryol Exp Morphol. 1986 Sep;97:25-46.


The spinal neurocoel normally occludes during the second day of chick embryogenesis as the lateral walls of the spinal cord become apposed closely in the midline. Concomitantly, the brain initiates its rapid and substantial enlargement. Occlusion, although short-lived, might play a major role in brain enlargement. As a result of occlusion, the brain ventricles are sealed off from the external milieu prior to closure of the posterior neuropore, establishing a closed fluid-filled system. The present study focuses on the mechanisms of occlusion of the spinal neurocoel. We tested two postulated intrinsic factors (microtubule-mediated neuroepithelial cell elongation and microfilament-mediated apical neuroepithelial cell constriction) and five extrinsic factors (three mediad pushing forces generated by the somites, perineural extracellular matrix and expanding surface ectoderm; and two stretching forces generated either vertically by pulling of the elongated notochord or longitudinally by elongation of the embryo) in maintaining occlusion. Our results suggest that occlusion is maintained by other, untested intrinsic factors and/or by forces generated within a perineural collar, composed of cellular and extracellular materials, intimately associated with the basal aspects of the spinal cord. Cytoskeletal-mediated changes in cell shapes, pushing forces and vertical and longitudinal tensions are not involved. Further studies are needed to examine the intrinsic properties of the neuroepithelium and the factors initiating occlusion and reopening.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • Chick Embryo / growth & development*
  • Cytochalasin D
  • Cytochalasins / pharmacology
  • Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microsurgery
  • Spinal Cord / ultrastructure


  • Cytochalasins
  • Cytochalasin D