In vertebrates the extraembryonic mesoderm of the yolk sac (YS) is the first site during embryogenesis where morphologically discernible hematopoiesis may be found. Later hematopoiesis shifts into the embryo proper, first to the liver, the major fetal hematopoietic site, then to definitive hematopoietic territories, the spleen and bone marrow. It is widely accepted that in the mouse this picture reflects the migration of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) from the YS accompanied by subsequent colonization of the hematopoietic tissues during embryogenesis. However, there is no conclusive evidence showing unequivocally the initiating role of the YS in murine adult hematopoiesis. Recently, we have demonstrated the important role of embryo body tissues in the development of CFU-S before the establishment of definitive hematopoiesis in the fetal liver. This finding suggests that the early development of the hematopoietic system in the mouse is more complex than has been previously proposed and we consider here the early hematopoietic events in the developing mouse embryo.
- yolk sac
- fetal liver