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Magnetic resonance microscopy atlas of equine embryonic development



Reasons for performing study

Equine embryogenesis post implantation is not well studied, and only two-dimensional illustrations are available. A thorough appreciation of the complex three-dimensional relationship between tissues and organs and their development is, however, crucial for understanding physiological and pathological mechanisms.


The goals were 2-fold: 1) to establish a freely accessible online atlas as a reference tool for the scientific and pedagogic communities; and 2) to create a framework for integration of data with known spatiotemporal distribution, such as gene expression or cell lineage.

Study design

Descriptive anatomical study.


Magnetic resonance microscopy was performed on embryos of 28, 32, 35, 37, 39, 40, 42, 45, 50 and 65 days gestation using a 9.4 T magnet. Equine embryos were staged according to the Carnegie system. Acquired images were optimised using histogram optimisation and processed for easy online access.


Magnetic resonance microscopy protocols for imaging of equine embryos and fetuses were developed. The wider spread of signal intensity values achieved by histogram equalisation increased visual contrast considerably. Despite their longer gestation, equine conceptuses appeared to reach the various Carnegie staging benchmarks earlier than human embryos.


The equine atlas is designed to serve as an online reference tool for research and teaching.

Potential relevance

The equine atlas may serve as a foundation and scaffold for improved anatomical labelling, spatial and temporal data integration and further understanding of physiological and pathophysiological processes involved in development and disease.