Oxygen Transport in the Early Embryo
This chapter provides a short review of oxygen transport conditions during the early embryonic development of the chick. Since mammalian embryos cannot be investigated in situ during the period of organogenesis, the experimental model of choice is the avian embryo. While there are differences in the boundary conditions for oxygen uptake between early mammalian and avian embryos, they share functional constraints which may have contributed to the persistence of the specific embryonic hemoglobins. Red blood cells and the circulatory system are the first structures that differentiate in the vertebrate embryo. The yolk sac is the site of embryonic erythropoiesis in higher vertebrates. It produces the first population of red cells (primitive erythrocytes), which synthesize the specific embryonic hemoglobins. These hemoglobins are subsequently replaced by either adult or fetal hemoglobin.
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