90934 - Human Embriology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Describe the mechanisms that control embryogenesis and morphogenesis in relation to human abnormalities and malformations. Discuss the mechanisms underlying embryonic processes focusing on recent discoveries that have shed light on traditional concepts or raised new doubts. Critically evaluate issues related to embryonic and adult stem cells. Describe the methods for stem cell isolation to obtain progenitor cells from perinatal tissues.

Course contents

Oogenesis: from oogonia to oocyte. Functional processes in ovarian follicles. Hormonal control of the female reproductive cycle.
Spermatogenesis and hormonal control of reproduction in the male, the mature spermatozoon.
Fertilization: sperm attraction, activation and penetration. Prevention of polyspermy.
Cleavage and the blastocyst stage. The trophoblast and the inner cell mass.
Implantation and decidual reaction. Two germ layer stage; yolk sac, amniotic cavity and extraembryonic celoma formations.
Gastrulation and the three embryonic germ layers (ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm) and molecular processes. The neural crest cells.
Craniocaudal and lateral foldings. Formation of intraembryonic coelom.
Placenta and extraembryonic membranes: amniotic membrane, chorion and placenta, umbilical cord, allantois.
Embryonic, fetal and postnatal hematopoiesis. Development of heart. Fetal e postnatal circulation.
Endoderm derivatives: pharyngeal development and respratory system. Facial development
Paraxial mesoderm derivatives: sclerotomes, myotomes and dermatomes. Lateral mesoderm derivatives: limb development.

LABORATORY experience consists in individual work at Cell Culture Laboratory:

1- Demonstration of human term placenta

2 - Human mesenchymal cell isolation from amniotic and chorionic membranes

3 - Human epithelial cell isolation from amniotic membrane

4 – Morphological evaluation of the cell cultures obtained and discussion of research findings


- Schoenwolf, Bleyl, Brauer, Francis-West Larsen's Human Embryology- Elsevier Ed.

- Moore, Persaud, Torchia Before we are born - Elsevier Ed.

-Carlson Human Embryology and Developmental Biology -Elsevier Ed.

Teaching methods

The course consists of 3 UC including 2 UC frontal lessons which aim to make students acquire the topics described in detail in the program and 1 UC (15 hours) of individual working in cell culture laboratory of FABIT Dept. where 26 laminar flow cabinets are available.

Assessment methods

The final test focuses on the achievement of learning objectives about:

- the prenatal stages of human development

- the molecular regulation of embryogenesis

- notes on organogenesis

Oral examination on two topics among a list of topics, covered during the course. The final mark of "Human Embryology Course" will be mediated with the marks reported in the “Stem Cell Therapy" course and the “Molecular Basis of Haematological Disorders” course.

The online registration to the examination is mandatory.

Teaching tools

Power point presentations that will be available online as downloadable content through the Platform (Virtual Learning Environment).

Office hours

See the website of Laura Bonsi

See the website of Pasquale Marrazzo