Skeletal Mother and Fetus Inside Amniotic Sac



Image Caption : Micro Magnetic Resonance Imaging based, stylized visualization of a mother's skeletal system and her 8-month old fetus as it resides in a translucent amniotic sac. The camera is zoomed in on the fetus. The camera zooms out to show the skeleton is in a sitting position with the right hand positioned to mimic the mother stroking her pregnant belly.

Amnion

The innermost membranous sac that surrounds and protects the developing embryo which is bathed in the AMNIOTIC FLUID. Amnion cells are secretory EPITHELIAL CELLS and contribute to the amniotic fluid.

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Amnion

transparent membranous sac that encloses the developing fetus and fills with amniotic fluid

Amniotic cavity

cavity that opens up between the inner cell mass and the trophoblast; develops into amnion

Embryonic Membranes

During the second week of development, with the embryo implanted in the uterus, cells within the blastocyst start to organize into layers. Some grow to form the extra-embryonic membranes needed to support and protect the growing embryo: the amnion, the yolk sac, the allantois, and the chorion.

At the beginning of the second week, the cells of the inner cell mass form into a two-layered disc of embryonic cells, and a space-the amniotic cavity-opens up between it and the trophoblast (Figure). Cells from the upper layer of the disc (the epiblast) extend around the amniotic cavity, creating a membranous sac that forms into the amnion by the end of the second week. The amnion fills with amniotic fluid and eventually grows to surround the embryo. Early in development, amniotic fluid consists almost entirely of a filtrate of maternal plasma, but as the kidneys of the fetus begin to function at approximately the eighth week, they add urine to the volume of amniotic fluid. Floating within the amniotic fluid, the embryo-and later, the fetus-is protected from trauma and rapid temperature changes. It can move freely within the fluid and can prepare for swallowing and breathing out of the uterus.

Development of the Embryonic Disc

This image shows the development of the amniotic cavity and the location of the embryonic disc.

Formation of the embryonic disc leaves spaces on either side that develop into the amniotic cavity and the yolk sac.

On the ventral side of the embryonic disc, opposite the amnion, cells in the lower layer of the embryonic disk (the hypoblast) extend into the blastocyst cavity and form a yolk sac. The yolk sac supplies some nutrients absorbed from the trophoblast and also provides primitive blood circulation to the developing embryo for the second and third week of development. When the placenta takes over nourishing the embryo at approximately week 4, the yolk sac has been greatly reduced in size and its main function is to serve as the source of blood cells and germ cells (cells that will give rise to gametes). During week 3, a finger-like outpocketing of the yolk sac develops into the allantois, a primitive excretory duct of the embryo that will become part of the urinary bladder. Together, the stalks of the yolk sac and allantois establish the outer structure of the umbilical cord.

The last of the extra-embryonic membranes is the chorion, which is the one membrane that surrounds all others. The development of the chorion will be discussed in more detail shortly, as it relates to the growth and development of the placenta.

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