Role of the notochord in the development of cephalic structures in normal and anencephalic human fetuses
- M Saraga
- Virchows Arch
Spinal cord-notochord relationship was analyzed histologically and immunohistochemically in normal human conceptuses between the 4–8 developmental weeks and in an 8-week embryo with double spinal the neural tube along the cranio-caudal body axis was paralleled by the differentiation of the median hindge point cells at the ventral midline of the tube and by its temporary close association with the notochord. During the 5th–8th developmental weeks, the neuroepithelium differentiating into three distinct layers was accompanied by a solid, ventromedially positioned notochord. In the abnormal 8-week embryo, the additional spinal cord was located ventrolaterally from the vertebral column. Both spinal cords appeared bilaterally asymmetric, with their floor and roof plates irregularly formed. An abnormally enhanced pattern of neuroepithelial differentiation characterized their dorsal parts. Furthermore, additional spinal nerves and ganglia and an abnormal bony structure were associated with the spinal cord positioned outside the vertebral column. The underlying vertebral bodies were misshaped and contained scattered supernumerary groups of notochord cells. Our investigation underlines the importance of the notochord-neural tube relationship in the morphogenesis of the spinal cord. We suggest that the double spinal cord was induced by the split notochord.