Afferent portal venous system in the mesonephros and metanephros of chick embryos: Development and degeneration

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    Background: In the chick embryo, both mesonephros and metanephros have a renal portal system. The classical literature gives uncertain answers about the development and degeneration of the meso- and metanephric portal venous system. Some mesonephric vessels present angiogenic processes to colonize the metanephros, while others show signs of degeneration and disappear together with the mesonephros. The adult avian kidney has a conspicuously placed valve, the renal portal valve. The development of this functionally important renal portal valve has not yet been studied in detail. Methods: Scanning electron microscopy of vascular corrosion casts has been used in this study. Strong mesonephric degeneration as well as metanephric growth and maturation occur in the developmental stages selected for this investigation (7.5, 9, 11, 14, and 21 days of incubation). Results: The mesonephric afferent venous system in the chick embryo is supplied by two vessels, the posterior and the anterior mesonephric portal veins. The posterior mesonephric portal veins show a similar pattern to the anuran (amphibian) kidney. The anterior mesonephric portal vein has not previously been described. Constrictions were found in this vessel, a probable sign of subsequent degeneration. The metanephric afferent venous system is also supplied by two vessels: the caudal and cranial metanephric portal veins. The caudal metanephric portal vein is derived from the postcardinal vein. The cranial metanephric portal vein grows independently throughout the development of the mesonephric vascular system. It is connected to the vertebral venous sinus already at the beginning of its development. The renal portal valve first appears as a capillary network that communicates with the developing afferent and efferent metanephric venous systems. This capillary network later develops to a venous valve. The metanephric afferent venous system shows typical angiogenic signs in corrosion cast, such as nodular protrusions, holes, and enlarged vessels. Conclusions: The postcardinal vein first supplies only the mesonephric tissue as a portal vessel. Then it becomes a common source for both kidney generations. Finally it supplies only the metanephric tissue with venous blood. However, two independent vessels were found to supply the cranial renal regions: the anterior mesonephric portal vein and the cranial metanephric portal.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-70
    JournalAnatomical Record
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997


    • Angiogenesis
    • Chick embryo
    • Corrosion casts
    • Degeneration
    • Mesonephros
    • Metanephros
    • Venous system


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