Comparative Development of the Mammalian Yolk Sac

  • B. F. King
  • A. C. Enders


The yolk sac is the first fetal membrane to be formed in all mammals, even though, among modern mammals, only the monotremes have retained a macrolecithal egg. Although no longer utilized for yolk storage and digestion, the yolk sac of eutherian mammals continues to subserve a wide variety of functions related to embryonic development. In many instances it is the primary, if not the sole, organ involved in maternal-fetal transfer of nutrients in early gestation during the critical period of organogenesis. In other species a yolk sac placenta remains functional throughout pregnancy, complementing the role of the chorioallantoic placenta. The yolk sac is also the first hemopoietic organ and has been shown, in most species, to synthesize and secrete a number of polypeptides important to normal embryonic development.


Endodermal Cell Uterine Lumen Parietal Endoderm Chorioallantoic Placenta Visceral Endodermal Cell 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. F. King
  • A. C. Enders

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