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appears to exist in the human subject till the embryo is three weeks old and about 2,5 mm. long. During the fourth week the vitello-intestinal duct is elongated into a relatively long narrow tube, which is lodged in the umbilical cord and the yolk-sac, which has become a relatively small vesicle, is placed between the outer surface of the amnion and the inner surface of the chorion, in the region of the placenta (Fig. 62). During the latter part of the fourth or the early part of the fifth week, when the embryo has attained a length of about 5 mm., the vitellointestinal duct separates from the intestine and commences to undergo atrophy, but remnants of it may be found in the umbilical cord up to the third month.

The yolk-sac itself persists until birth, when it is, relatively, a very minute object which lies either between the amnion and the placenta or between the amnion and the chorion læve.

At a very early period, before the paraxial mesoderm has commenced to divide into mesodermal somites, a number of arteries, the primitive vitelline arteries, are distributed to the yolk-sac from the primitive arterial trunks of the embryo, the primitive aortæ, and the blood is returned from the yolk-sac to the embryo by a pair of vitelline veins (Fig. 81).

After a time the arteries are reduced to a single pair, and after the two primitive dorsal aortæ have fused into a single trunk, the pair of vitelline arteries also becomes converted into a single trunk, which passes through the umbilical orifice along the vitello-intestinal duct to the yolk-sac (Fig. 83).

The vitelline veins also pass through the umbilical orifice on their way to the heart of the embryo, and they become connected together, in the interior of the body of the embryo, by transverse anastomoses, which are described in the account of the development of the vascular system.

After the umbilical cord is formed, the extra-embryonic parts of the vitelline veins disappear, and can no longer be traced in the cord. The same fate overta kes the extra-embryonic and a portion of the intra-embryonic part of the vitelline artery, and the remainder of the artery persists as the superior mesenteric.


The placenta is an organ developed for the purpose of providing first the embryo and later the fætus with food and oxygen, and for removing the effete products produced by the metabolic processes which take place in the growing organism. It is formed partly from the zygote and partly from the mucous membrane of the uterus of the mother.

In the placenta the blood vessels of the embryo of the earlier stages and the fætus of the later stages and the blood of the mother are brought into close relationship with one another, so that free interchanges may readily take place between the two blood streams; and the modifications and transformations of the uterine mucous membrane and the chorion of the zygote, by which this intimate relationship is attained, constitute the phenomena of the development of the placenta.

The details of the development of the human zygote for the first ten or twelve days after the fertilisation of the ovum are not known, but the knowledge of what happens in other mammals justifies the belief that during that time the zygote is formed, in the ovarian, or the middle part of the uterine tube, by the union of a spermatozoon with the mature ovum. During the first ten to fourteen days after its formation it passes along the uterine tube, towards the uterus, whilst, at the same time, it undergoes the divisions which convert it into a morula.

The Formation of the Placenta. — Before the zygote reaches the uterus the mucous membrane which lines the cavity of that organ undergoes changes, in preparation for its reception and retention, and when the changes are completed the modified mucous membrane is known as the uterine decidua.

The changes which take place are, for the most part, hypertrophic in character; the vascularity of the mucous membrane is increased, mainly by the dilatation of its capillaries; the tubular glands of the membrane are elongated, they become

Decidua basalis

tortuous, and dilatations form in their walls a short distance from their outer closed

At the same time the interglandular tissue increases in amount, and as a result of the various processes the decidua is thicker, softer, more spongy, and more vascular than the mucous membrane from which it was evolved.

Partly on account of the dilatation of the deep part of the glands and partly on account of differences in texture of the internal as contrasted with the external part of the decidua, the membrane may be looked upon as consisting of three layers. (1) An internal layer, next the cavity, the stratum compactum.

(2) An intermediate layer, the stratum spongiosum, formed largely by the dilated parts of the glands. (3) An external layer, the unchanged layer, in which lie the comparatively unaltered outer ends of the glands.

When the zygote, in the morula stage, reaches the uterus, from the tenth to the fourteenth day, it acts as a parasite, it eats its way through the epithelium on the surface of the decidua, and implants itself in the stratum compactum.

The zygote may penetrate the decidua at any point of the wall of the uterine cavity, but it usually enters at some point of the dorsal or the ventral


Blood-vessels wall. The entrance generMuscular wall

Inner mass of cells of uterus

Unchanged layer ally takes place between

Dilated part of gland the mouths of adjacent Uterine

Inner part of tube

gland glands, which are pushed aside, and the zygote becomes at once surrounded by the

interglandular tissue of the stratum com

(compact pactum of the decidua. layer) The aperture through

Cavity of which it passes may be uterus closed by a fibrinous plug or its margins may converge rapidly and fuse together.

The portion of the decidua in which the zygote is embedded is thicker than the other parts of the

Cavity of membrane, and it is separ

cervix utert ated by the zygote into an internal part, the decidua capsularis, and an external

Fig. 74.-SCHEMA OF A FRONTAL SECTION OF THE UTERUS, showing part, the decidua basalis.

the various parts of the decidua and a zygote embedded in the The junction of the decidua

decidua, capsularis with the decidua basalis is the decidua marginalis, and the remainder of the decidua, by far the larger portion, is the decidua vera.

As soon as the zygote becomes embedded in the decidua its trophoblast undergoes rapid proliferation. The superficial part of the growing trophoblast becomes converted into a mass of nucleated protoplasm, the plasmodial or syncytial layer, but the inner part remains more or less distinctly cellular.

The plasmodial portion of the trophoblast invades and destroys the surrounding maternal tissue, and at the same time spaces appear in its substance. As the plasmodium destroys the walls of the dilated maternal blood vessels, channels are made through which the maternal blood flows into the spaces in the plasmodium, and thus maternal blood begins to circulate in the trophoblast of the zygote.

In the meantime the extra-embryonic cælom has appeared in the primary Inesoderm of the zygote, and the outer layer of the mesoderm has associated itself with the trophoblast to form the chorion.

The spaces in the plasmodium enlarge rapidly after the maternal blood


begins to circulate within them and the plasmodium becomes divided into

three series of Spongy layer

parts. (1) The Intervillous space Unchanged layer of decidua Maternal blood vessel

Stratum spongiosum

parts which lie

between adjacent Muscular wall of uterus

Secondary villus

blood spaces, the Uterine tube

Amnion cavity

primary chorionic Amnion

villi. (2) The parts

which lie in conMesoderm lining trophoblast


tact with the

Allantoic diverti. mesoderm of the Trophoblast


chorion, and which

Primitive streak Unchanged part of

form with the gland

Neurenteric canal Dilated part of

mesoderm the gland

Cavity of

entoderm sac chorion plate. (3) Cavity of uterus


The parts which Decidua capsularis

cover the maternal tissues and form

the outer bounDecidua vera

daries of the blood Embryonic area

spaces, the basal layer. The blood spaces themselves are called the intervillous spaces (Figs. 76, 79).


each primary

villus differentiates into a cellular core and plasmodial periphery, and thereafter the villi are invaded by the mesoderm of

Unchanged layer

Maternal blood-vessels the chorion and are thus converted into

Spongy layer

Intervillous spaces secondary villi (Fig.


chorionic villi The first-formed

Uterine tube villi are non-vascular, but by the time the secondary villi have

Body-stalk Trophoblastdeveloped the um- of chorion

Hind-gut bilical arteries have Amnion


diverticulum grown through the Amnion cavity

Pericardium body-stalk (allantoic


pharyngeal stalk) into the meso

membrane derm of the chorion, Decidua

Yolk-sac capsularis and branches from

Decidua vera them enter the mesodermal cores of the Spongy layer

Head villi, which thus be- Extra-embryonic

cælom come vascular.

Muscular wall of uterus When the secondary villi are fully developed each consists of a vascular mesodermal core continuous with the mesoderm of the chorion. The meso


PERIOD OF THE FORMATION OF THE EMBRYO. Note extension of amnion dermal core is covered

as contrasted with stage shown in Fig. 75.


Placental area



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by a layer of cellular trophoblast, Langhan's layer, which lies ne the uterine cavity, and a layer of plasmodium external to the cellular layer. The she uterus is of each villus is continuous with the chorion plate of the intervironth, and as formed by the chorion, and the distal extremity is connected with the prus. at its basal layer of the trophoblast, which forms the outer boundary of the intervillous spaces and which is fused with the maternal decidual tissue.

After a time branches are projected from the sides of the secondary villi into the intervillous spaces. In this way two sets of secondary villi are differentiated, (1) the anchoring villi (Fig. 79), which cross from the chorion to the

Intervillous space

Secondary villus

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Uterine tube LUnchanged part of uterine gland _Dilated part of uterine gland

Decidua capsularis

Decidua capsularis


Note that the expanding amnion has almost obliterated the extra-embryonic coelom which lies between it and the chorion.

basal layer of trophoblast and are attached to the latter by cell columns, which are the remains of the primary villi which have not been penetrated by the fatal mesoderm, and (2) free or absorbing villi (Fig. 76), which extend from the sides of the original secondary villi into the blood, in the intervillous spaces.

Whilst the trophoblastic invasion of the compact layer of the decidua is proceeding, not only are the interglandular elements of the decidua destroyed, but the walls of the glands also, and, as a consequence, some of the glands in the decidua basalis open for a time into the intervillous spaces, and become filled with blood which passes from the spaces into the gland cavities. In many cases, however, before the glands are destroyed their walls are converted into solid strands of cells, and thus the cavities of their more external undestroyed portions are converted into closed spaces.

In the early stages the trophoblast is differentiated in a similar manner over chorion plate closing the intervillous spaces internally; (2) the villi; (3) the intervillous spaces; and (4) the basal layer of the trophoblast, which closes the intervillous spaces externally, and is perforated by the maternal vessels passing to and from the spaces.

The maternal portion of the completed placenta consists from within outwards of (1) the basal layer of the decidua; (2) the remains of the spongy layer of the decidua ; and (3) the unchanged layer.

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separation of the placenta. Part of the umbilical cord is shown in section and part in surface view. The blue streaks in the former part indicate the position occupied by the vitello-intestinal duct in earlier stages.

The basal layer of the decidua is the remains of the compact part of the decidua basalis of earlier stages. It is fused internally with the basal plate of the trophoblast, and is continuous externally with the spongy layer. The spongy layer consists of a series of cleft-like spaces. These spaces are the compressed remains of the earlier dilated portions of the glands of the stratum spongiosum, from which the epithelial lining has, to a great extent, disappeared. The spongy layer is continuous externally with the unchanged layer, in which lie the unaltered outer parts of the glands and the intervening interglandular tissue.

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