Smooth Muscle Development

From Embryology
Embryology - 12 Jun 2024    Facebook link Pinterest link Twitter link  Expand to Translate  
Google Translate - select your language from the list shown below (this will open a new external page)

العربية | català | 中文 | 中國傳統的 | français | Deutsche | עִברִית | हिंदी | bahasa Indonesia | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | မြန်မာ | Pilipino | Polskie | português | ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਦੇ | Română | русский | Español | Swahili | Svensk | ไทย | Türkçe | اردو | ייִדיש | Tiếng Việt    These external translations are automated and may not be accurate. (More? About Translations)


Colon wall smooth muscle layers

There are 3 different types of muscle: skeletal, cardiac and smooth. This page describes smooth muscle development, descriptions of cardiac muscle and smooth muscle development can be found in other notes. A specialised type of type of smooth located in glandular epithelium are myoepithelial cells.

  • Smooth muscle is mesoderm, and also neural crest, in origin and contributes to many different tissues including the muscular wall of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, artery walls, bladder wall, uterus, seminiferous tubules and ductus deferens.
  • Smooth muscle is non-striated in appearance, lacking the regular organisation of sarcomeres seen in skeletal and cardiac muscle.
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Cardiovascular - Blood vessel and lymphatic vessel walls.
  • Renal - Urinary bladder
  • Genital - Uterus, Male and female reproductive tracts
  • Respiratory tract
  • Integumentary - erector pili of skin
  • Sensory - ciliary muscle and iris of the eye

Smooth Muscle Links: Smooth Muscle Development | Smooth Muscle Histology | Blood Vessel | Uterus | Urinary Bladder | Mesoderm

Some Recent Findings

  • Review - Heterogeneity in vascular smooth muscle cell embryonic origin in relation to adult structure, physiology, and disease[1] "Regional differences in vascular physiology and disease response exist throughout the vascular tree. While these differences in physiology and disease correspond to regional vascular environmental conditions, there is also compelling evidence that the embryonic origins of the smooth muscle inherent to the vessels may play a role. Here, we review what is known regarding the role of embryonic origin of vascular smooth muscle cells during vascular development. The focus of this review is to highlight the heterogeneity in the origins of vascular smooth muscle cells and the resulting regional physiologies of the vessels. Our goal is to stimulate future investigation into this area and provide a better understanding of vascular organogenesis and disease."
  • Embryonic origins of human vascular smooth muscle cells: implications for in vitro modeling and clinical application[2] "Vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) arise from multiple origins during development, raising the possibility that differences in embryological origins between SMCs could contribute to site-specific localization of vascular diseases. In this review, we first examine the developmental pathways and embryological origins of vascular SMCs and then discuss in vitro strategies for deriving SMCs from human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)."
  • Prdm6 is essential for cardiovascular development in vivo[3] "Complete deletion of Prdm6 results in embryonic lethality due to cardiovascular defects associated with aberrations in vascular patterning. However, smooth muscle cells could be regularly differentiated from Prdm6-deficient embryonic stem cells and vascular smooth muscle cells were present and proliferated normally in Prdm6-deficient embryos. Conditional deletion of Prdm6 in the smooth muscle cell lineage using a SM22-Cre driver line resulted in perinatal lethality due to hemorrhage in the lungs. We thus identified Prdm6 as a factor that is essential for the physiological control of cardiovascular development."
  • Smooth muscle cell differentiation in vitro: models and underlying molecular mechanisms[4] "Development of in vitro models by which to study smooth muscle cell (SMC) differentiation has been hindered by some peculiarities intrinsic to these cells, namely their different embryological origins and their ability to undergo phenotypic modulation in cell culture. Although many in vitro models are available for studying SMC differentiation, careful consideration should be taken so that the model chosen fits the questions being posed. In this review, we summarize several well-established in vitro models available to study SMC differentiation from stem cells and outline novel mechanisms recently identified as underlying SMC differentiation programs."
More recent papers  
Mark Hill.jpg
PubMed logo.gif

This table allows an automated computer search of the external PubMed database using the listed "Search term" text link.

  • This search now requires a manual link as the original PubMed extension has been disabled.
  • The displayed list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
  • References also appear on this list based upon the date of the actual page viewing.

References listed on the rest of the content page and the associated discussion page (listed under the publication year sub-headings) do include some editorial selection based upon both relevance and availability.

More? References | Discussion Page | Journal Searches | 2019 References | 2020 References

Search term: Smooth Muscle Embryology

<pubmed limit=5>Smooth Muscle Embryology</pubmed>

Gastrointestinal Tract

The gastrointestinal tract consists of two thick outer muscle layers (longitudinal and circular) and a thin muscularis mucosa layer.

Links: Colon Histology | Gastrointestinal Tract Development

Neural Innervation

  • 1857 Meissner was the first to describe a nerve plexus in the submucosa of the bowel wall.
  • 1864 Auerbach described the myenteric plexus between the longitudinal and circular muscle layers.
  • 1981 LeDouarin describes neural crest contribution to both plexuses.

Myenteric Plexus

  • Auerbach's Plexus
  • functions for peristalsis and gastric mixing.
  • Coordinated waves of descending inhibition followed by waves of descending excitation
+ Extrinsic parasympathetic cholinergic nerves (vagal and sacral) excite peristalsis and stimulate
- Sympathetic noradrenergic nerves inhibit the transit of gut contents

Submucosal Plexus

  • Meissner's Plexus
  • functions for secretion and absorption.

Interstitial cells of Cajal

  • Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs) are peripheral nervous system neuron found in some smooth muscle organs.
  • function as pacemaker cells, neuromodulation or mechanosensory roles.

Peritubular Myoid Cell Layer

Seminiferous tubule cartoon

The contractile cell layer (myoid cell layer) found in all mammalian species located in the testis surrounding the seminiferous tubule. Their contractile activity aids spermatozoa and fluid movement in the tubule. These cells lie in the tunica propria outside the basement membrane and type I collagen layer and beneath a lymphatic layer. The organisation of this layer varies between species several cellular layers in human and some other animals, a single cell layer in rodents (rats, hamsters and mice).[5]

The term term "peritubular cells" is also used to describe the fibroblast cells found associated with capillaries in the kidney glomerulus. These are different cells.

Links: Testis Development | Spermatozoa Development


Vein histology

Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) progenitors are recruited into the early developing blood vessels. These progenitors have various embryonic origins (see review[1]) including:

  • splanchnic mesoderm (e.g. aorta)
  • somitic mesoderm (e.g. aorta)
  • neural crest (e.g. pharyngeal arch arteries)
  • mesothelia (e.g. trunk vasculature)
  • other

Histology Images

Smooth Muscle Histology: Labeled Colon low | Labeled Colon high | Colon x40 | Colon x40 | Ileum x10 | Oesophagus x10 | Seminiferous tubule x40 | Uterus myometrium x10 | Uterus myometrium x40 |


  1. 1.0 1.1 <pubmed>25546231</pubmed>
  2. <pubmed>24442477</pubmed>| PMC4031394
  3. <pubmed>24278461</pubmed>
  4. <pubmed>21677291</pubmed>
  5. <pubmed>8727359</pubmed>



Search PubMed

Search Pubmed Central Images: smooth muscle

Search Pubmed: Smooth Muscle Development

Additional Images


External Links

External Links Notice - The dynamic nature of the internet may mean that some of these listed links may no longer function. If the link no longer works search the web with the link text or name. Links to any external commercial sites are provided for information purposes only and should never be considered an endorsement. UNSW Embryology is provided as an educational resource with no clinical information or commercial affiliation.

Glossary Links

Glossary: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | Numbers | Symbols | Term Link

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, June 12) Embryology Smooth Muscle Development. Retrieved from

What Links Here?
© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G