Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 235, Issue 2, pp 347–356 | Cite as

The pig blastocyst: Its ultrastructure and the uptake of protein macromolecules

  • H. W. J. Stroband
  • N. Taverne
  • M. v. d. Bogaard


Between days 8 and 11 of pregnancy spherical blastocysts from 0.3 to 10 mm in diameter were flushed from the uterine horns of Dutch Landrace pigs. A description of their ultrastructure is given, and the uptake of horseradish peroxidase and ferritin is demonstrated.

The ultrastructure of the trophoblast was similar at all ages studied. The trophoblast which has many apical microvilli is able to take up and digest the macromolecules which were offered in the in vitro incubation medium.

The hypoblast consists of flattened cells. In blastocysts 2 mm and larger, compact cells bearing microvilli are found below the embryoblast. Cell organelles indicating protein synthesis are found within hypoblast cells of such blastocysts.

In the embryoblast, local concentrations of cell organelles are visible, indicating that differentiation has started. After the disappearance of Rauber's layer, which takes place when the blastocyst reaches a diameter of about 2 mm, superficial embryoblast cells develop short microvilli. The cells do not absorb ferritin or peroxidase but are dependent on the trophoblast for their food requirements.

All cell layers in the blastocyst contain mitochondria that have characteristics of those found in steroidproducing cells.

The significance of the uptake and digestion of macromolecules by trophoblast cells, the synthesis of protein by hypoblast cells and the possible synthesis of steroids is discussed with respect to the relationship between the cell layers of the blastocyst and in the context of conceptomaternal relationships.

Key words

Blastocyst Ultrastructure Pig 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. W. J. Stroband
    • 1
  • N. Taverne
    • 1
  • M. v. d. Bogaard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Animal Morphology and Cell BiologyAgricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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