Is the ultimobranchial body a reality or myth: A study using serial sections of human embryos

Yohei Honkura, Masahito Yamamoto, Toshihito Yoshimoto, Jose Francisco Rodriguez-Vazquez, Gen Murakami, Yukio Katori, Shin Ichi Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Reported morphologies of the ultimobranchial body had varied between researchers: a cluster of mitotic cells, a duct-like structure and a rosette-like cell mass. To clarify the true morphology, we studied tilted horizontal sections of 20 human embryos (crown-rump length 5-18 mm; 4-6 weeks). The sections displayed a ladder-like arrangement of the second to fourth endodermal pouches and, in 5 early embryos we found the fifth pouch attached to the fifth ectodermal groove near the fourth pharyngeal arch artery. The bilateral fifth pharyngeal pouches protruded anterolaterally to form a U-shaped lumen surrounding the arytenoid swelling. The third to fifth pouches were each characterized by a pedal-shaped inferior end. We identified several types of cell clusters as candidates for the ultimobranchial body, but morphologically most of them were, to various degrees, likely to correspond to the blind end of the lower pouch when cut tangentially. Because of the topographical relation to the common carotid artery, a cyst-like structure with a cell cluster seemed to be the most likely candidate of the ultimobranchial body (a common anlage of the thymus and parathyroid). However, we were not able to deny a possibility that a certain plane cutting the pouch end incidentally provided such a cyst-like structure in sections. At any stage, the ultimobranchial body might not appear as a definite structure that is discriminated from others with routine staining. A concept of the ultimobranchial body might be biased by comparative anatomy that shows the ultimobranchial gland in adult birds and reptiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalOkajimas Folia Anatomica Japonica
Volume93
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug

Keywords

  • Human embryos
  • Parathyroid
  • Pharyngeal pouch
  • Thymus
  • Ultimobranchial body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy

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