Coelomic Cavity Development

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There are cavities, coeloms, that form and lie both outside (extraembryonic) and inside (intraembryonic) the embryo during development.

The intraembryonic coelom is the primitive cavity that lies within the developing embryo that will form the 3 major body cavities: pericardial, pleural, peritoneal. The coelom forms very early in embryogenesis and is much later paritioned inferiorly by the diaphragm and pleuroperitoneal membrane; and superiorly initially by the pleuropericardial fold between the heart and lungs. The intraembryonic coelom communicated through coelomic portals (at the level of midgut herniation) with the extraembryonic coelom.

All cavities are fluid filled and developing organs push against a wall of the cavity, generating a double coat (serosal/adventital) surrounding an organ (for example the lungs). The serous membrane is the epithelium (squamous) and its associated underlying loose connective tissue.

Coelom Links: Introduction | Lecture - Week 3 Development | Lecture - Mesoderm Development | Placenta - Membranes | Category:Coelomic Cavity
Historic Embryology: 1891 peritoneal | 1897 human coelom | 1910 | 1924 serous

| original page

System Links: Introduction | Cardiovascular | Coelomic Cavity | Endocrine | Gastrointestinal Tract | Genital | Head | Immune | Integumentary | Musculoskeletal | Neural | Neural Crest | Placenta | Renal | Respiratory | Sensory | Birth

Some Recent Findings

  • Embryo-fetal erythroid megaloblasts in the human coelomic cavity[1] "The coelomic cavity is part of the extraembryonic mesoderm, surrounding amniotic cavity, embryo, and yolk sac in the early gestation. It is now believed to represent an important transfer interface and a reservoir of nutrients for the embryo. Coelocentesis by ultrasound-guided transvaginal puncture offers an easier access to the early human embryo, from 28 days post-fertilization. However, despite some studies about its biochemical composition being reported, our knowledge about the presence of cellular elements and their quality in this compartment are still limited. Here we studied human coelomic fluids sampled from 6.6 (48 days) to 10 weeks of gestation, demonstrating the presence of functional embryonic erythroid precursors, that is, megaloblasts in the coelomic cavity."


  • Describe the development of the intra- and extra-embryonic coeloms.
  • Describe the processes involved in the development of the three divisions of the intra-embryonic coelom; pericardium, pleural cavities and peritoneum.
  • Describe the fate of the extra embryonic coelom.
  • Describe the development of the diaphragm.

Development Overview

Extraembryonic Coelom
cavity surrounding the developing embryo
coelomic portalstransient communication between extra/intracoelom
Intraembryonic Coelom
horseshoe shaped structure forms 3 main cavities
Neural Tube

percardial cavity
Ventricular space
L/R pleural cavities
Spinal canal
peritoneal cavity
(More? Neural System Development)

Intraembryonic Coelom

peritoneal and retroperitoneal

Percardial Cavity

Links: Cardiovascular System Development

Pleural Cavity

Links: Respiratory System Development

Peritoneal Cavity

Week 8


Stage 22 image 200.jpg


Stage 22 image 203.jpg

Carnegie stage 22

Mesentery and Retroperitoneal


Stages in the development of the bursa omentalis, the greater omentum, and the fusion of the latter with the transverse mesocolon.


Links: Gastrointestinal Tract Development


The epithelial covering of coelomic organs and also line their cavities.

  • Contribute to the vasculature of the heart and the intestinal tract.
  • Undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), migration, and differentiation into endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, and pericytes.
    • contribute most of the vascular smooth muscle to the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. (Remainder derived from endothelium?)


  1. <pubmed>20533375</pubmed>




Search PubMed

Search Pubmed: Coelomic Cavity Development | pericardial cavity development | pleural cavity development | peritoneal cavity development

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2019, November 14) Embryology Coelomic Cavity Development. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2019, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G