Thursday, 28 March 2013

Naming of the Trophoblast

Ambrosius Arnold Willem Hubrecht (Wikimedia Commons)

Robert Pijnenborg and Lisbeth Vercruysse have written an excellent paper (here) on the Dutch embryologist A. A. W. Hubrecht. He it was who coined the term trophoblast to describe cells of fetal origin with a nutritive function. 

One of Hubrecht's sections of the hedgehog placenta
Labels as in the original paper

Hubrecht applied the term to the cells in the labyrinth of the hedgehog placenta. The layer beneath that was called the trophospongium. Hubrecht mistakenly thought it was maternal in origin, but we now know it is spongiotrophoblast. There was in addition a layer of cells he called deciduofracts; these are trophoblast giant cells.

Hubrecht's collection is now curated at Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.

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