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Anat Rec. 1988 Sep;222(1):90-4.

Extragonadal distribution of primordial germ cells in the early chick embryo.

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Department of Anatomy, Kumamoto University Medical School, Japan.


Chick primordial germ cells (PGCs), after separation from the endoderm in early embryonic development, temporarily circulate via the blood vascular system and finally migrate into the gonadal anlagen. It has been noted by some authors that some PGCs are present in extragonadal sites in some vertebrates. In the present study, we examined the distribution and localization of PGCs in extragonadal sites in the chick embryo. PGCs were identified by periodic acid-Schiff staining with light microscopy. In embryos at stages 20-24 (PGCs are in the settlement stage in the gonadal primordium), approximately 20% of the total number of PGCs were observed in extragonadal regions. Approximately 90% of these ectopic PGCs were found in the head, mainly in the mesenchyme surrounding the neural tube. Even at stage 14 when PGCs were usually circulating in the blood vessels, some of the PGCs had emerged from the blood vessels and were detected in the extragonadal site. This pattern of distribution of ectopic PGCs in the head area is probably attributed to the earlier, dominant development of the capillary network, and to the sluggish capillary blood flow in that region, which allows intravascular PGCs to escape into the tissue.

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