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Ann Anat. 1994 Jun;176(3):277-86.

Morphological and immunohistochemical characteristics of axial structures in the transitory human tail.

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Institute of Histology and Embryology, School of Medicine at Split, University of Zagreb, Croatia.


Ultrastructural relationships between the notochord and neighboring spinal cord were examined during the regression of the human tail. Also, the presence of certain extracellular matrix components in the notochord was immuno-histochemically analysed in the 4th to 12th week old embryos. At the early stages, a close apposition of the notochord to the spinal cord exists in the entire tail region. The external surface of both structures is covered with a continuous basal lamina. The narrow tissue interspace contains interdigitating cell processes and both amorphous and fibrillar extracellular matrix material. With advancing embryonic age, separation of the two structures occurs in craniocaudal direction and the widening interspace becomes occupied by mesenchymal cells. During tail regression and spinal cord retraction, the appearance of large intercellular spaces and cell degeneration takes place in both tissues. With age, the extracellular matrix of the notochord, predominantly the perinotochordal sheath, increases in amount and antigenic complexity. While the intensity of laminin, collagen type IV and type III expression rises continuously during the period examined, the expression of fibronectin begins first at later stages, after the separation of the notochord from the spinal cord. The possible developmental significance of the described phenomena in the regression of the posterior end of the human tail remains to be elucidated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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