Ultimobranchial body cysts in the human foetal thyroid: pathological implications

J Pathol. 1979 Feb;127(2):89-92. doi: 10.1002/path.1711270206.


In a histological study of 28 human foetal thyroids, ultimobranchial body cysts were found in seven foetuses. Large oval cells were seen adjacent to or within the cysts. There is a morphological resemblance between the cells associated with the ultimobranchial cysts and those of medullary carcinoma of the thyroid gland. This similarity, in humans, substantiates the hypothesis that medullary carcinoma arises from the parafollicular cells, which themselves are known to differentiate from ultimobranchial body tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Cysts / embryology*
  • Female
  • Fetus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid Gland / embryology*
  • Thyroid Gland / pathology