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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the development of blood vessels
  • Describe the fetal circulation

In a developing embryo,the heart has developed enough by day 21 post-fertilization to begin beating. Circulation patterns are clearly established by the fourth week of embryonic life. It is critical to the survival of the developing human that the circulatory system forms early to supply the growing tissue with nutrients and gases, and to remove waste products. Blood cells and vessel production in structures outside the embryo proper called the yolk sac, chorion, and connecting stalk begin about 15 to 16 days following fertilization. Development of these circulatory elements within the embryo itself begins approximately 2 days later. You will learn more about the formation and function of these early structures when you study the chapter on development. During those first few weeks, blood vessels begin to form from the embryonic mesoderm. The precursor cells are known as hemangioblasts    . These in turn differentiate into angioblasts    , which give rise to the blood vessels and pluripotent stem cells, which differentiate into the formed elements of blood. (Seek additional content for more detail on fetal development and circulation.) Together, these cells form masses known as blood islands    scattered throughout the embryonic disc. Spaces appear on the blood islands that develop into vessel lumens. The endothelial lining of the vessels arise from the angioblasts within these islands. Surrounding mesenchymal cells give rise to the smooth muscle and connective tissue layers of the vessels. While the vessels are developing, the pluripotent stem cells begin to form the blood.

Vascular tubes also develop on the blood islands, and they eventually connect to one another as well as to the developing, tubular heart. Thus, the developmental pattern, rather than beginning from the formation of one central vessel and spreading outward, occurs in many regions simultaneously with vessels later joining together. This angiogenesis    —the creation of new blood vessels from existing ones—continues as needed throughout life as we grow and develop.

Blood vessel development often follows the same pattern as nerve development and travels to the same target tissues and organs. This occurs because the many factors directing growth of nerves also stimulate blood vessels to follow a similar pattern. Whether a given vessel develops into an artery or a vein is dependent upon local concentrations of signaling proteins.

As the embryo grows within the mother’s uterus, its requirements for nutrients and gas exchange also grow. The placenta—a circulatory organ unique to pregnancy—develops jointly from the embryo and uterine wall structures to fill this need. Emerging from the placenta is the umbilical vein    , which carries oxygen-rich blood from the mother to the fetal inferior vena cava via the ductus venosus to the heart that pumps it into fetal circulation. Two umbilical arteries    carry oxygen-depleted fetal blood, including wastes and carbon dioxide, to the placenta. Remnants of the umbilical arteries remain in the adult. (Seek additional content for more information on the role of the placenta in fetal circulation.)

There are three major shunts—alternate paths for blood flow—found in the circulatory system of the fetus. Two of these shunts divert blood from the pulmonary to the systemic circuit, whereas the third connects the umbilical vein to the inferior vena cava. The first two shunts are critical during fetal life, when the lungs are compressed, filled with amniotic fluid, and nonfunctional, and gas exchange is provided by the placenta. These shunts close shortly after birth, however, when the newborn begins to breathe. The third shunt persists a bit longer but becomes nonfunctional once the umbilical cord is severed. The three shunts are as follows ( [link] ):

  • The foramen ovale    is an opening in the interatrial septum that allows blood to flow from the right atrium to the left atrium. A valve associated with this opening prevents backflow of blood during the fetal period. As the newborn begins to breathe and blood pressure in the atria increases, this shunt closes. The fossa ovalis remains in the interatrial septum after birth, marking the location of the former foramen ovale.
  • The ductus arteriosus    is a short, muscular vessel that connects the pulmonary trunk to the aorta. Most of the blood pumped from the right ventricle into the pulmonary trunk is thereby diverted into the aorta. Only enough blood reaches the fetal lungs to maintain the developing lung tissue. When the newborn takes the first breath, pressure within the lungs drops dramatically, and both the lungs and the pulmonary vessels expand. As the amount of oxygen increases, the smooth muscles in the wall of the ductus arteriosus constrict, sealing off the passage. Eventually, the muscular and endothelial components of the ductus arteriosus degenerate, leaving only the connective tissue component of the ligamentum arteriosum.
  • The ductus venosus    is a temporary blood vessel that branches from the umbilical vein, allowing much of the freshly oxygenated blood from the placenta—the organ of gas exchange between the mother and fetus—to bypass the fetal liver and go directly to the fetal heart. The ductus venosus closes slowly during the first weeks of infancy and degenerates to become the ligamentum venosum.

Fetal shunts

This figure shows the blood vessels in a fetus.
The foramen ovale in the interatrial septum allows blood to flow from the right atrium to the left atrium. The ductus arteriosus is a temporary vessel, connecting the aorta to the pulmonary trunk. The ductus venosus links the umbilical vein to the inferior vena cava largely through the liver.

Chapter review

Blood vessels begin to form from the embryonic mesoderm. The precursor hemangioblasts differentiate into angioblasts, which give rise to the blood vessels and pluripotent stem cells that differentiate into the formed elements of the blood. Together, these cells form blood islands scattered throughout the embryo. Extensions known as vascular tubes eventually connect the vascular network. As the embryo grows within the mother’s womb, the placenta develops to supply blood rich in oxygen and nutrients via the umbilical vein and to remove wastes in oxygen-depleted blood via the umbilical arteries. Three major shunts found in the fetus are the foramen ovale and ductus arteriosus, which divert blood from the pulmonary to the systemic circuit, and the ductus venosus, which carries freshly oxygenated blood high in nutrients to the fetal heart.

Questions & Answers

Rheumatoid arthritis affects
Jessica Reply
what is oedema
Nantumbwe Reply
i want abook about physiology including the vitamins
fluid retention in the body. (also spelt as edema) e.g. fluid retention in the lungs is called Pulmonary Edema). It can also happen as a result of Injury manifested as swelling.
can you give me an example of a tissue composed of few related types of cells
Theresa Reply
What is LMx1600
Mae Reply
the skeletal system includes all of the bones
All Reply
what is the bone not contain red bone marrow in medulla
Duha Reply
To know the part of human body
Sarah Reply
Anatomy refers to as structure of human body
so is the macroscopic and microscopic the types of anatomy
Gloria Reply
is microscopic and macroscopic a type of anatomy
Please can someone explain three glands in endocrine system?
can someone explain disease and the category
type 2 is controled by diet
Chloe Reply
Diet and life style
Diet how? maybe eating food containing less sugar?
we must eat protein food to check our diet
type 2 diabetes cannot be controlled by insulin so therefore your diet should be well balanced especially you shouldn't eat foods with high sugar level or stopping sugar at all so that the sugar content needed by your body will be provided by the balanced diet taken
what is hypotension
regina Reply
hypotension is when the blood pressure is less than 60/50
hypo means low so it implies low blood pressure
what is mild DKA
mild diabetic ketoacidosis is when there is high level of sugar in the blood and the ketone bodies build up in the body ,is a type 1 which can lead to type 2
what is the normal range for blood pressure?
120 over 80
low blood pressure; opposite of high blood pressure which is hypertension
what if your a type 2 diabetic and you have no way to get meds due to no insurance what is some good over the counter medications to take?
type 2 diabets is controlled by diet not meds.type 1 is contolled by insulin.
type 1 diabets cant be controlled type 2 can be controlled.type 1 is worse than type 2 diabets.
type 2 is purely a lifestyle disease, eat healthy, fresh, natural unprocessed real foods.
sometime , we already eat diabetic diet than the results of blood sugar level not turn good , what is the reason ?
What is a "diabetic diet" though? Be specific. Juvenile diabetes and/or Type 1 diabetes is something that one can be born with, this needs medical diagnosis and intervention.
what i mean by diabetic diet is we take fiber-rich food like vegetables,nut and also fish.
ok, no cause a doctor told me I needed metformin and my suger won't go under 300
what is the difference between plasma and serum
Gloria Reply
Plasma contains fibrinogen while serum doesn't
plasma ----- fibrinogen = serum
serum is blood plasma without fibrinogen or other clotting factors While blood plasma contains dissolved protein like fibrinogen,globulin, and albumin), glucose, clotting factors,mineral ions like Na2+,Cl-1,hormones and carbon dioxide
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun? what is chyme?
Sneha Reply
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Chemical digestion---Mixtures of the food with the gastric acid Mechanical digestion--- churning of the food in the stomach making it become more involved into chyme
absorption takes place in the small intestine because of the presence of the villi
name the muscles supplied redina nerve
Appu Reply
mechanism of hormone releasing by gland
said Reply
why is muscle tissue not considered to be a type of connective tissue?
Ezel Reply
A Skeletal muscles consist of numerous muscles cells called Muscle Fibers . Three layers of connective tissues surrounded these fibers to make the muscles tissues
that's wny connective tissues is not considered as muscles fibers
there are 4 types of tissues : epithelial, connective tissue, nervous tissue and muscle tissue, each one has its own properties. The main function of connective tissue is nutrition, it supplies nutrientes to epithelial tissues that are responsible for protection.
Muscle tissue has properties that allow movement, the function here is movement and not nutrition like connective tissue.
In what time stomach empty it's content in to doudemun?
write the chemical and mechanical digestion which occurs in stomach?
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are absorption in the stomach by which cell?
Does absorption take place in stomach? what are the absorption in the stomach by which cell?
mechanism of hormone controlling releasing by gland
please can someone explain renin angiotensin aldosteron system for me

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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