Neurovascular Anatomy of the Embryonic Quail Hindlimb



Blood vessel and nerve development in the vertebrate embryo possess certain similarities in pattern and molecular guidance cues. To study the specific influence of shared guidance molecules on nervous and vascular development, an understanding of the normal neurovascular anatomy must be in place. The present study documents the pattern of nervous and vascular development in the Japanese quail hindlimb using immunohistochemistry and fluorescently labeled intravital injection combined with confocal and epifluorescent microscopy. The developmental patterns of major nerves and blood vessels of embryonic hindlimbs between stages E2.75 (HH18) and E6.0 (HH29) are described. By E2.75, the dorsal aortae have begun to fuse into a single vessel at the level of the hindlimb, and have completely fused by E3 (HH20). The posterior cardinal vein is formed at the level of the hindlimb by E3, as is the main artery of the early hindlimb, the ischiadic artery, as an offshoot of the dorsal aorta. Our data suggest that eight spinal segments, versus seven as reported by others (Tanaka and Landmesser,1986a; Tyrrell et al.,1990), contribute to innervation of the quail hindlimb. Lumbosacral neurites reach the plexus region by E3.5 (HH21 & 22), pause for ∼24 hr, and then enter the hindlimb along with the ischiadic and crural arteries through shared foramina in the pelvic anlage. The degree of anterior–posterior spatial congruency between major nerves and blood vessels of the quail hindlimb was found to be highest medial to the pelvic girdle precursor, versus in the hindlimb proper. Anat Rec, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.