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Abstract

Shortly after its appearance, the avian limb bud becomes populated by a rich plexus of vascular channels. Formation of this plexus occurs by angiogenesis, specifically the ingrowth of branches from the dorsal aorta or cardinal veins, and by differentiation of endogenous angioblasts within limb mesoderm. However, mesenchyme located immediately beneath the surface ectoderm of the limb is devoid of patent blood vessels. The objective of this research is to ascertain whether peripheral limb mesoderm lacks angioblasts at all stages or becomes avascular secondarily during limb development.

Grafts of core or peripheral wing mesoderm, identified by the presence or absence of patent channels following systemic infusion with ink, were grafted from quail embryos at stages 16–26 into the head region of chick embryos at stage 9–10. Hosts were fixed 3–5 days later and sections treated with antibodies that recognize quail endothelial cells and their precursors.

Labeled endothelial cells were found intercalated into normal craniofacial blood vessels both nearby and distant from the site of implantation following grafting of limb core mesoderm from any stage. Identical results were obtained following grafting of limb peripheral mesoderm at stages 16–21. However, peripheral mesoderm from donors older than stage 22 did not contain endothelial precursors. Thus at the onset of appendicular development angioblasts are present throughout the mesoderm of the limb bud. During the fourth day of incubation, these cells are lost from peripheral mesoderm, either through emigration or degeneration.