Mesonephros: transitory kidney
The mesonephros differentiates itself during the 4th week and after the 8th week it degenerates. It replaces the pronephros and develops from three structures:
- Nephrogenic cord (stage 10) de la région dorsolombaire
- Mesonephric duct (stage 11)
- Glomerular capillary network (stage 13)
The mesonephric duct forms on the dorsal side of the nephrogenic cord at the level of the 9th somite. Initially it consists of a solid mesenchymal cord of cells (stage 11). It releases itself from the nephrogenic cord and is finally localized under the ectoderm, which probably plays an inductive role in its formation.
Released from the nephrogenic cord, it develops in the caudal direction and canalizes itself at the same time (stage 12), in order to finally end in the cloaca. As soon as it is canalized one calls it the mesonephric duct (Wolffian duct). At the site where the mesonephric duct (Wolffian duct) discharges into the cloaca, the rear wall of the bladder forms
Mesonephros: first excretory organ
Shortly after the differentiation of the mesonephric duct, through mesenchymal-epithelial transformation, the mesonephric vesicles (stage 11) arise out of the nephrogenic cord, which represents a mesoderm condensate.
Via the mesonephric tubules they connect up with the mesonephric duct (stage 14).
This differentiation takes place bilaterally in the area between the upper thoracic region (Th1) and the lumbar region (L3). A cranio-caudal gradient is also visible here. To the extent in which new mesonephric vesicles and tubules develop caudally, the cranial elements begin to atrophy so that never more than 30 pairs exist in the mesonephros. They form the excretory system that closely resembles the adult nephrons.
Medially, the mesonephric vesicle dead-ends in that it forms a funnel (Bowman's capsule). Each of these funnels surrounds a tuft of capillaries (glomerulus), which have also arisen in the nephrogenic tissue and come from lateral (visceral) branches of the dorsal aorta. They drain into the inferior cardinal vein.
The capsule with glomerulus together form a renal corpuscle. A renal corpuscle and its associated tubule are called a nephron and the functional unit an excretory mesonephric unit.
In the interactive diagram below you can study the development of the urine excretory mesonephric unit over the course of stages 11 to 17, which roughly corresponds to the 4th to 6th weeks of development.
The production of urine begins in the mesonephros during the 6th week (stage 17). After the 10th week these nephrons become inactive and atrophy. While in the female all mesonephric tubules atrophy completely, in the male a few that lie caudally remain in order to develop into the testicular efferent ducts.