, Volume 186, Issue 4, pp 379-385

The development of pericardial villi in the chick embryo

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The development of pericardial villi and their relation to the development of the cardiac surface was studied in chick embryos from the 3rd to 10th day of incubation by scanning electron microscopy. During the 3rd day of incubation (stage 14–17 HH) the coelomic epithelium covering the ventral wall of the sinus venosus forms villous protrusions. By the end of the 3rd day (stage 17 HH) these protrusions contact the dorsal wall of the heart, so that a secondary dorsal mesocardium is formed. This bridges the pericardial cavity between the ventral wall of the sinus venosus and the dorsal base of the ventricles. This sinu-ventricular mesocardium exists only temporarily, as on the 8th day of incubation it becomes a part of the cardiac wall due to fusion with the epicardium of the coronary sulcus. During the 4th and 5th day of incubation (stage 17 – 25 HH), the formation of the epicardium proceeds from the point of attachment of the sinu-ventricular mesocardium. Although these findings suggest that the epithelium of the villous protrusions spreads over the surface of the embryonic heart, one cannot exclude other hypotheses on epicardial origin. The impression of a spreading epicardium could also be created if epicardial cells were to delaminate from a local epithelium in a temporally and spatially organized pattern.