Origin and differentiation of the yolk sac and extraembryonic mesoderm in presomite human and rhesus monkey embryos

Am J Anat. 1978 May;152(1):59-97. doi: 10.1002/aja.1001520106.


Reexamination of presomite human and rhesus monkey embryos in the Carnegie Collection provides no evidence to corroborate the hypothesis that the trophoblast is the source of all extraembryonic tissues in these embryos. Instead, the present study indicates that the developmental pattern of the yolk sac and extraembryonic mesoderm is homologous to that in other eutharian mammals. The primary yolk sac of 10- to 11-day human blastocysts is partially filled with a meshwork of extraembryonic endoderm, whereas such a meshwork is absent in the rhesus monkey. It is suggested that this endodermal meshwork develops as the result of interstitial implantation in the human embryo. A small secondary yolk sac develops in 12- to 13-day human and macaque embryos as the result of pinching off of a portion of the larger primary yolk sac. Development of a secondary yolk sac in higher primates appears to be related causally to differential rates of expansion of the blastocyst and primary yolk sac within the simplex uterus. The caudal margin of the primitive streak develops precociously in 12- to 14-day human and macaque embryos, and this appears to be the source of all the extraembryonic mesoderm of the chorion, chorionic villi, and body stalk. It is suggested that the peripheral spread of extraembryonic mesoderm plays in inductive role in the development of chorionic villi, similar to other types of epithelial-mesenchymal inductive interactions. In contrast to previous hypotheses, the human and macaque trophoblasts appear to give rise only to additional trophoblast.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Amnion / cytology
  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / cytology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Embryo, Mammalian / physiology*
  • Extraembryonic Membranes / cytology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Macaca
  • Mesoderm / cytology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Yolk Sac / cytology*