• Capillaries;
  • Chick embryo;
  • Vascular endothelium;
  • Hematopoiesis;
  • Kupffer cells;
  • Liver;
  • Microscopy;
  • Morphogenesis


Hepatic hemopoiesis is apparent in the chicken embryo on day 7 of incubation (Hamburger and Hamilton Stage 30), and a peak in hemopoietic activity occurs on day 14 (Stage 40). During this period, the differentiation of hemopoietic cells was examined by light microscopy and by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Glycol methacrylate sections were used in lieu of smears to study hemopoietic cells, thus minimizing the problems of cell shrinkage and rupture. The sections were superior to smears for close examination of nuclear and cytoplasmic morphologies and for precise localization of hemopoietic cells to intravascular and extravascular sites. The avian liver is involved directly with erythropoiesis and granulopoiesis only. Erythropoietic cells, occurring in intravascular and extravascular locations, appear throughout the time frame examined. Blood islands with granulopoietic cells were not observed until days 8–9 (Stage 35). Granulopoiesis in the liver produces only eosinophilic leukocytes. Individual granulopoietic cells appear first in the connective tissue sheaths of hepatic vessels, and these cells subsequently congregate into blood islands. Endothelial cells of the sinusoidal linings, through asymmetric divisions, frequently release daughter cells into the circulation, and Kupffer cells are actively engaged in phagocytosis of erythrocytes. From a comparative standpoint the elements deemed critical to hemopoiesis in the mammalian liver–prehepatocyte population, hepatic vasculature, and compartments for stem cell differentiation–may not hold the same importance in the bird, owing to an inordinate reliance on intravascular hemopoiesis in this vertebrate class. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.