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Anat Rec. 1991 Jan;229(1):109-15.

Ectopic colonization of primordial germ cells in the chick embryo lacking the gonads.

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Department of Anatomy, Kumamoto University Medical School, Japan.


Chick primordial germ cells (PGCs) first appear in the extraembryonic region in the early embryo, then temporarily circulate via the blood vascular system and finally migrate into the gonadal anlagen. In the present study, we examined the trend of ectopic distribution of PGCs in the chick embryo when its future gonadal region had been removed at an early stage. Embryos at stage 10, from which the caudal third region was excised, were incubated until they reached stages 14 to 20. In embryos at stage 14, about 80% of the total PGCs were found in the capillaries of the yolk sac, whereas others were observed in the head, mainly in the mesenchyme and small vessels close to the neural tube. From stage 18 onward, many PGCs accumulated in the embryo proper; about 90% of them colonized in the head region around the neural tube. These ectopic PGCs in the head were found in the capillaries, sometimes as thrombi or emerging from them into the adjacent mesenchyme. These results show that, when the chick embryo lacked gonads, the PGCs could be concentrated in the head region and migrated from the capillaries into the mesenchyme.

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