84283 - Embryology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

Describe the structures and the development of the human embryo at different stages, including gametogenesis, fertilization, and implantation.

Course contents

Learning outcomes: At the end of the course the students will mechanisms that control human embryogenesis and morphogenesis. They are familiar with tissue origin from germ layers, organogenetic mechanisms of the embryo and embryonic stem cells.

Objectives: Knowledge of the basic aspects of human embryogenesis and morphogenesis.

Program: Embriology- Characteristics of the mechanisms that control human embryogenesis and morphogenesis.


Fecondation: mature germ cells. Stages of the interaction process between spermatozoon and oocyte and their structural modifications. Activation and penetration of the spermatozoon.

Principles and molecular mechanisms of the embyonal development: histogenesis and organogenesis of the embryo. Early stages of the embryonic development. Genes that control the embryonic development.

Oogenesis and female genital system: Ovary and ovulation, folliculogenesis, formation of the corpus luteum, hormone control of the ovarian and uterine cycles. From oogonium to mature oocyte. Female fertility and infertility. Menopause.

Spermatogenesis and male genital system: Testicle and spermatogenesis. Mature male gamete. Hormone control of the spermatogenesis and spermatozoon structure. Male fertility and infertility.

First week of development: Embryo cleavage and implantation. From zygote to blastocyst. Formation of trophoblast and embryoblast.

Second week of development: Trophoblast differentiation. Decidual reaction. Evolution of embryonic annexes: formation of the primitive amniotic cavity, of the primary and secondary yolk sac and of extraembryonic mesoderm.

Third week of development: gastrulation and formation of the trilaminar embryo. Formation of the primitive streak and of the three germ layers (ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm) and its molecular regulation. Notochord origin and bilaminar membranes. Development and partition of mesoderm and intraembryonic coelom. Early development of primitive cardiovascular system. Induction of the neural plate, neurulation and its regulatory mechanisms. Embryonic annexes in the 3° week (chorion, chorionic villi, amnion, amniotic liquid, allantois and yolk sac).

Fourth week of development: growth and development of germ layers derivatives. Definition of embryonic body and start of organogenesis. Development of ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. Embryo foldings. Embryonic annexes during the 4° week: the yolk sac and the connecting stalk.

Embryonic, fetal and postnatal hematopoiesis and circulation: Formation of the early blood vessels, blood cells and development of lymphoid organs. Heart development.

From the fifth week of development to the Birth-the organogenesis: development of face, integumentary system, formation of gastrointestinal tract and repiratory system, development of genitourinary system and circulatory system. Development of the neural tube. Development of muscoloskeletal system, eye and ear. Primary and definitive placenta: structure and functions. Umbilical cord and the placental circulation.


  1. The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embriology 10ed (Inglese) 7 set 2015 authors: Moore, Persaud, Torchia.


The students will be strongly encouraged to take an independent approach to learning. They will be advaiced to adopt any international textbook in English available on-line. They will also be guided toward a critical use of internet-assisted documentation and histological archives of italian universities.

Teaching methods

A combination of frontal lessons and lessons inter-pares on specific arguments. The acquisition of the knowledge will be frequently monitored with oral and written tests

Assessment methods

At the end of the course an oral examination will take place

Teaching tools

Selected meritorious slides presentations on specific subjects prepared by students of previous academic years that will be posted on line

Office hours

See the website of Anna Rita Franco Migliaccio