Quicktime Development Animation - Adrenal Medulla

From Embryology
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Adrenal Medulla Development

This animation shows the dual embryonic origins of the adrenal development.

Adrenal Cortex

  • mesothelium origin, epithelium lining the body cavity at the site of adrenal development
  • Late Fetal Period - differentiates to form cortical zones
  • Birth - zona glomerulosa, zona fasiculata present
  • Year 3 - zona reticularis present

Adrenal Medulla

  • neural crest origin, migrate adjacent to coelomic cavity, initially uncapsulated and not surrounded by fetal cortex, cells have neuron-like morphology
  • 2 cell types - secrete epinepherine (adrenaline) 80%; secrete norepinepherine (noradrenaline* 20%


Neural crest cells migrate toward the coelomic cavity wall and form the adrenal medulla. These chromaffin (chromaphil) cells originally named because of their staining (yellow) with chromium salts.


Week 4 celomic epithelium (mesothelium) cells proliferate initially forming small buds that separate from the epithelium.

Week 6 these now mesenchymal cells first form the fetal adrenal cortex which will be later replaced by the adult cortex.