The embryoblast

On the 4th or 5th day (stage 3) the embryoblast consists of a double-layered embryonic disk.

The outer cylindrical cells are known as epiblast (ectoblast) and the inner cubical cell layer is called the hypoblast (endoblast).

The amniotic cavity (Figs. 4 - 6) has developed into the epiblast, in that fluids have accumulated between the cells. The fluid that collects there splits the epiblast-cell into two layers. The cell layer at the embryonic pole differentiates itself into the amniotic membrane (the cells of which are called amnioblasts). The amniotic membrane separates the amniotic cavity from the cytotrophoblast (stage 4).

The formation of the umbilical vesicle and of the chorion cavity (extra-embryonic coelom) is less well understood. Various theories exist. One says that the hypoblast cells from the edge of the embryonic disk migrate along the inner side of the blastocyst cavity and thereby flatten out (Fig. 6). From the 9th day a fine basal membrane-like layer outside this hypoblast layer is visible. It is called the exocoel-membrane or Heuser's membrane. Together they form the primary umbilical vesicle.

Also, the formation of the subsequent secondary umbilical vesicle is not yet fully clear. One theory points out that the secondary umbilical vesicle probably arises through the disintegration of the primary and restoration of the now secondary umbilical vesicle. Thereby the residues (remains) of the primary umbilical vesicle at the abembryonic pole decay and disappear (Fig. 12).

Fig. 9 - Implantation 11th day

  1. Extra-embryonic mesoblast
  2. Extra-embryonic reticulum
  3. Primary umbilical vesicle
  4. Cytotrophoblast

Fig. 10 - Implantation 12th day

Lacunae in the reticulum
Heuser´s membrane between hypoblast and mesoblast cells

Fig. 9, 10

Extra-embryonic mesoblast cells, derived from epiblast cells, grow into the extra-embryonic reticulum. Beginning of the reticular vacuole formation that will form the future chorionic cavity.

Fig. 10

Simultaneously with the formation of the umbilical vesicle extra-embryonic mesoblast cells arise and cover the interior of the cytothrophoblast and the exterior of the umbilical vesicle as well as the amniotic cavity. The origin of these cells is still not yet entirely clarified. They could come from delaminated cytothrophoblast cells or from a proliferation zone at the caudal end of the embryonic disk (i.e., from the epiblast). Some authors postulate that they come from both the CT cells and a proliferation zone in the periphery of the embryonic disk. The extra-embryonic reticulum, which lies between these two layers of the extra-embryonic mesoblast (EEM), is dissolved and leaves a further cavity behind, the chorionic cavity (stage 6a).

On the 13th day the embryonic disk possesses dorsally an amniotic cavity and ventrally the chorionic cavity, which surround the umbilical vesicle outwardly. They seem to be hung only on a thick stalk from the mesoblast, the body stalk (stage 6b).

Fig. 11 - Implantation 13th –14th day

  1. Extra-embryonic mesoblast (EEM)
  2. Chorionic cavity
  3. Secondary umbilical vesicle

Fig. 12 - Implantation 17th day

  1. Extra-embryonic mesoblast (EEM)
  2. Chorionic cavity
  3. Remains of the primary umbilical vesicle
  4. Secondary umbilical vesicle

Fig. 11

The chorionic cavity has been created.The primary umbilical vesicle has collapsed and is now replaced by a smaller secondary umbilical vesicle.

Fig. 12

The remains of the primary umbilical vesicle form small vacuoles in the EEM. The embryonic disk with the definitive secondary umbilical vesicle is now surrounded by the chorionic cavity.