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Anat Sci Int. 2011 Jun;86(2):98-107. doi: 10.1007/s12565-010-0093-3. Epub 2010 Aug 27.

The Meckel's cartilage in human embryonic and early fetal periods.

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  • 1Department of Conservative Dentistry and Periodontology, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 60-812, Poznan, Poland.


The Meckel's cartilage itself and the mandible are derived from the first branchial arch, and their development depends upon the contribution of the cranial neural crest cells. The prenatal development of the Meckel's cartilage, along with its relationship to the developing mandible and the related structures, were studied histologically in human embryos and fetuses. The material was obtained from a collection of the Department of Anatomy, and laboratory procedures were used to prepare sections, which were stained according to standard light-microscopy methods. The formation of the Meckel's cartilage and its related structures was observed and documented. Some critical moments in the development of the Meckel's cartilage are suggested. The sequential development of the Meckel's cartilage started as early as stage 13 (32 days) with the appearance of condensation of mesenchymal cells within the mandibular prominence. During stage 17 (41 days), the primary ossification center of the mandible appeared on the inferior margin of the Meckel's cartilage. The muscular attachments to the Meckel's cartilage in embryos were observed at stage 18 (44 days). Their subsequent movement into the developing mandible during the 10th week seemed to diminish the role of the Meckel's cartilage as the supportive core; simultaneously, the process of regression within the cartilage was induced. During the embryonic period, the bilateral Meckel's cartilages were in closest contact at the posterior surface of their superior margins, preceding formation of the symphyseal cartilage at this site. The event sequence in the development of the Meckel's cartilage is finally discussed.

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