Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 193, Issue 4, pp 319–330

Axial structures control laterality in the distribution pattern of endothelial cells

  • Stephan Klessinger
  • Bodo Christ
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF00186689

Cite this article as:
Klessinger, S. & Christ, B. Anat Embryol (1996) 193: 319. doi:10.1007/BF00186689


In the midline of the embryo an invisible barrier exists that keeps endothelial cells from migrating to the contralateral side. Interspecific grafting experiments between chick and quail were carried out in order to investigate the role of the axial structures in maintaining this barrier. The quail endothelial cells of the graft were therefore stained with QH1 antibody. In all experimental series quail paraxial mesoderm was used as a source of endothelial cells. First, a quail somite was transplanted either ipsilaterally or contralaterally. The results not only show the existence of laterality in the distribution pattern, but also demonstrate that the laterality does not depend on the origin of the graft but on the environment of the host embryo. Laterality in the distribution pattern of endothelial cells means that the endothelial cells of the two body halves migrate independently and do not change from one side to the other. Single cells do not know whether they are cells from the right or from the left half of the body. In the next series of experiments axial structures were removed in order to modify the barrier. In addition, paraxial mesoderm was exchanged with the corresponding quail tissue in order to determine the migration behaviour of the grafted endothelial cells. The removal of the neural tube does not influence the barrier. After notochordectomy, however, the endothelial cells exhibited a balanced distribution pattern over both halves of the embryo. We concluded that the notochord forms a barrier for endothelial cells that presumably operates on the basis of chemical substances. It is conceivable that our results can explain the lateralization of illnesses of the vascular system, as the Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome or the Sturge-Weber syndrome.

Key words

Avian embryos Cell migration Midline of the embryo Axial organs Angiogenesis 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephan Klessinger
    • 1
  • Bodo Christ
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Anatomy, University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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