The Eggs of Mammals (1936) 10

From Embryology

Chapter X Summary and Recapitulation

The Eggs of Mammals (1936): Introduction | The Origin of the Definitive Ova | The Growth of the Ovum | The Development and Atresia of Full-Grown Ova and the Problem of Ovarian Parthenogenesis | Methods Employed in the Experimental Manipulation of Mammalian Ova | The Tubal History of Unfertilized Eggs | Fertilization and Cleavage | The Activation of Unfertilized Eggs | The Growth and Implantation of the Blastodermic Vesicle | Summary and Recapitulation | Bibliography | Figures | Historic Disclaimer
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For the purposes of this monograph an ovum is considered as such from the moment of its functional differentiation in the ovary until its implantation in the uterine endometrium. An examination has been made of the experimental investigations of the growth and development of the mammahan ovum during the various stages of its life history in the ovary and oviducts.

The problem of the origin of the definitive ova has received much attention, but it cannot be said to have been completely resolved. If we are to judge by evidence from non-mammalian forms the large amoeboid primordial germ cells must enter the embryonic gonad if it is to differentiate as a functional organ. A functional ovary develops only from embryonic gonads in which the secondary sex cords proliferate to form a true ovarian cortex associated with the germinal epithelium.

The ovaries of young mammals contain large numbers of primitive oocytes. The conception that these oocytes are the only precursors of the definitive ova is controverted by a large body of recent evidence which indicates that new ova are .proliferated from the germinal epithelium and that the rate of this proliferation varies with the various stages of the oestrus and pregnancy cycles. Ovogenesis in the adult seems to be partially inhibited by certain secretions of the anterior pituitary, the gonad-stimulating hormones affecting follicle growth primarily. The exact relation of the gonad-stimulating hormones to the ovogenetic processes is not at all obvious. It seems certain that the prophase stages of the oocyte nuclei occur independent of pituitary hormone activity.

Pituitary hormones are definitely concerned in the final stage of ovum maturation, the first polar division which normally occurs in the ovary of most mammals. The pituitary secretions do not affect the eggs directly but initiate changes in the follicles which make for maturation in the ova. Similar changes occur in atretic follicles with a resulting "pseudomaturation" in the ova of such follicles. The initiation of ovum activation represented by the first maturation division occurs in vitro simply upon the explantation of ovarian eggs. Maturation in vivo and in vitro can be explained as the result of a functional isolation of the ovum from the follicular epithelium. It is held probable therefore that the parthenogenetic development of ova observed in mammalian ovaries occurs as the result of the establishment in the follicle of special activating conditions.

Parthenogenetic development of unfertilized tubal ova rarely if ever occurs in vivo. In most eutherian mammals the eggs are shed surrounded by follicle cells. If sperm are not present the surrounding cells slowly fall away, and the naked ova descend into the lower portion of the tubes where they degenerate and are eventually either resorbed or washed out into the uterus. When sperm are present there is a rapid dissolution of the surrounding follicle cells due to the action of a heat labile substance carried by the sperm. It has been claimed that this same substance activates the ova into forming the second polar body, but the available evidence is contradictory. Tubal eggs remain fertilizable for a few hours in the rabbit, and for thirty hours in the ferret.

Manamalian ova may be fertilized in vitro and normal cleavage ensues. This is most readily demonstrated with rabbit ova, for the ova of most of the other forms examined do not cleave or develop appreciably under the ordinary conditions of tissue culture. Segmentation in vivo occurs at fairly characteristic rates in the various species of mammals. The cleavage rate in rabbits is definitely correlated with the adult size of the strain employed. The cleavage process itself is under the control of a cyanide-labile system. The process of cleavage is apparently independent of the activity of the primary sex hormones, oestrin and progestin.

Tubal rabbit ova readily exhibit parthenogenetic cleavages under certain conditions of explantation in vitro. Parthenogenetic activation can be initiated experimentally by treatment with cytolytic agents, by exposure to hypertonic solutions, and by heat treatment.

The development of the blastodermic vesicle in vivo is conditioned by the activity of corpus luteum secretions. In the absence of the corpus luteum development does not occur beyond that stage in which ova just entering the uterus are found. The evidence indicates that the corpus luteum secretions either stimulate the eggs directly or provide through stimulation of the uterine endometrium a suitable environment for the developing blastocysts. Oestrin and allied compounds prevent blastocyst growth by inhibiting the corpus luteum effect, the ova being most sensitive to this inhibition during the early blastocyst stages.

The implantation process itself is also under hormonal control. In the rat and mouse ovum implantation is delayed during lactation. This delay appears to be due to excessive corpus luteum secretion.

The development of various techniques for the explantation of ova both in vivo and in vitro makes available a variety of experimental investigations of the manmaalian ovum. The ova of certain forms are particularly adapted to experimental manipulation. Mammalian ova normally develop in a homeostatic environment. Certain components of this homeostasis sharply limit the extent and nature of ovum development at certain stages. During other phases of its growth the ovum appears to be a relatively independent organism. Careful investigation of the physiological processes occurring in the ovum itself and in its homeostatic environment is made possible by the various explantation and transplantation techniques.


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Pages where the terms "Historic Textbook" and "Historic Embryology" appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms and interpretations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)
The Eggs of Mammals (1936): Introduction | The Origin of the Definitive Ova | The Growth of the Ovum | The Development and Atresia of Full-Grown Ova and the Problem of Ovarian Parthenogenesis | Methods Employed in the Experimental Manipulation of Mammalian Ova | The Tubal History of Unfertilized Eggs | Fertilization and Cleavage | The Activation of Unfertilized Eggs | The Growth and Implantation of the Blastodermic Vesicle | Summary and Recapitulation | Bibliography | Figures | Historic Disclaimer

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