Diagram illustrating early formation of allantois and differentiation of body-stalk.
Sectional plan of the gravid uterus in the third and fourth month.
|Gives rise to||Umbilical cord|
Allantois (//; plural allantoides or allantoises) is a sac-like structure that forms part of a developing amniote's conceptus (which consists of all embryonic and extra-embryonic tissues). It helps the embryo exchange gases and handle liquid waste.
The allantois, along with the amnion and chorion (other embryonic membranes), identify humans, and other mammals, as amniotes. Other amniotes include reptiles, dinosaurs, and birds. Of the vertebrates, only Ichthyopsidas (fish and amphibians) lack this structure.
This sac-like structure is primarily involved in nutrition and excretion, and is webbed with blood vessels. The function of the allantois is to collect liquid waste from the embryo, as well as to exchange gases used by the embryo.
In reptiles, birds, and monotremes
The structure first evolved in reptiles and birds as a reservoir for nitrogenous waste, but also as a means for oxygenation of the embryo. Oxygen is absorbed by the allantois through the egg shell. The allantois functions similarly in monotremes, which are egg-laying mammals.
In most marsupials
In most marsupials, the allantois is avascular, having no blood vessels, but still serves the purpose of storing nitrogenous (NH3) waste. Also, most marsupial allantoises do not fuse with the chorion. An exception is the allantois of the bandicoot, which has a vasculature, and fuses with the chorion.
In placental mammals (Eutheria)
- The mouse allantois consists of mesodermal tissue, which undergoes vasculogenesis to form the mature umbilical artery and vein.
- The human allantois is an endodermal evagination of the developing hindgut which becomes surrounded by the mesodermal connecting stalk. The connecting stalk forms the umbilical vasculature. The allantois becomes the urachus which connects the fetal bladder to the yolk sac. The urachus removes nitrogenous waste from the fetal bladder. The allantois is vestigial and may regress, yet the homologous blood vessels persist as the umbilical arteries and veins connecting the embryo with the placenta.
During the third week of development, the allantois protrudes into the area of the urogenital sinus. Between the 5th and 7th week of development, the allantois will become the urachus, a duct between the bladder and the yolk sac. A patent allantois can result in urachal cyst.
- Downs, K.M. 1998. "The Murine Allantois". Current Topics in Developmental Biology vol. 39, pp 1-33.
- First AID for the USMLE Step 1 2008