The vomeronasal organ in the human embryo, studied by means of three-dimensional computer reconstruction

R J Sherwood, J C McLachlan, J F Aiton, J Scarborough

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The human vomeronasal organ is of interest because of its potential role in sex pheromone detection. Due to the scarcity of early human material, studies of its development have concentrated on fetal rather than embryonic stages. The availability of embryonic specimens in the Walmsley Collection has enabled us to study the development of the vomeronasal organ (VNO) in human embryos between Carnegie Stages 17 and 23. Embryos at Carnegie Stage 17 or below showed no evidence of a VNO. One embryo with characteristics intermediate between Carnegie stages 17 and 18 was the earliest to show evidence of a VNO, in the form of a shallow indentation. All embryos at Carnegie Stages 18 or later had VNOs. Three-dimensional computer reconstructions were made of the VNO in each specimen where this was possible. This in part depended on the plane of section. The total volume and lumen volume were measured from these reconstructions and the volume of the vomeronasal epithelium was calculated by subtraction. A generally consistent increase in total volume and epithelial volume was observed with increasing developmental stage. The lumen contributed rather little to the total volume at these stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-418
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


  • development
  • virtual reality objects
  • Carnegie stages

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