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Anat Rec. 1997 Nov;249(3):399-404.

Ontogeny of milky spots in the human greater omentum: an immunochemical study.

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Department of Anesthesiology, AMC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Milky spots in the human greater omentum are preformed specific accumulations of primarily macrophages within the stroma of the greater omentum. To obtain a better understanding of milky spots in the human greater omentum, the development and the earliest forms of milky spots in the human greater omentum were studied, with special attention to the macrophage population.


Specimens of human greater omentum were obtained from fetuses of 20 to 40 weeks gestation and one newborn three days old (n = 6). Using mature macrophages (RFD 7), activated macrophages (RFD 1), B-lymphocytes (CD 22), and T-lymphocytes (CD 2), and immunoperoxydase labeling, the percentage of these cells in developing milky spots and the development of milky spots were studied by light microscopy. A time-dependent increase in the percentage of positive staining cells and the size of clusters was analyzed using the non-parametric Spearman rank correlation test.


Small accumulations of cells with about 50% monocytes/macrophages were present at 20 weeks of gestation. With increasing gestational age the number of clusters of cells increased significantly (P < 0.01) as well as their size (P < 0.01). Starting at 29 weeks, vascularized clusters of cells were seen; true milky spots were present at 35 weeks. A significant (P < 0.05) increase in the percentage of mature macrophages was found in developing milky spots, whereas no activated macrophages were seen. The percentage of B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes found in the clusters of cells and milky spots increased significantly (P < 0.05) but did not exceed 10% of the total number of cells.


From our data it can be concluded that milky spots are specific structures in the greater omentum formed between the 20th and 35th week of gestation. Further, we concluded that immature cells (promonocytes) mature locally in developing milky spots.

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