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Anat Embryol (Berl). 2004 Dec;209(2):107-17. Epub 2004 Oct 14.

Development of the posterior neural tube in human embryos.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


Development of the posterior neural tube (PNT) in human embryos is a complicated process that involves both primary and secondary neurulation. Because normal development of the PNT is not fully understood, pathogenesis of spinal neural tube defects remains elusive. To clarify the mechanism of PNT development, we histologically examined 20 human embryos around the stage of posterior neuropore closure and found that the developing PNT can be divided into three parts: 1) the most rostral region, which corresponds to the posterior part of the primary neural tube, 2) the junctional region of the primary and secondary neural tubes, and 3) the caudal region, which emerges from the neural cord. In the junctional region, the axially-condensed mesenchyme (AM) intervened between the neural plate/tube and the notochord at the stage of posterior neuropore closure, while the notochord was directly attached to the neural plate/tube in the most rostral region. A single cavity was found to be formed in the AM as the presumptive luminal surface cells were radially aligned in the junctional region prior to the formation of the neural cord. The single cavity was continuous with the central cavity of the primary neural tube. In contrast, multiple or isolated cavities were frequently observed in the caudal region of the PNT. Our observation suggests that the junctional region of the PNT is distinct from other regions in terms of the relationship with the notochord and the mode of cavitation during secondary neurulation.

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