Histogenesis of developing human fetal stomach

Rafika Munawara, Kanchan Kapoor, Mahesh K. Sharma, Poonam Goel, Poonam Chaudhary


Background: Human stomach is a highly specialised organ with distinct types of glands and microscopic features for its physiological activity. This study aimed to assess the chronological order in the development of different layers and the cyto-differentiation of various glandular cells in 50 fetuses from 12 weeks of gestation till term.

Methods: Tissue was taken from cardiac, body and pylorus to investigate with light and confocal microscopy.

Results: The gastric gland formation began as an indentation of the surface epithelium, gastric pit and simultaneous development of glandular buds in the mucosa. The pyloric glands preceded the development of cardiac and gastric glands showing retro cranial sequence of development. In contrast, the muscularis externa showed the classical craniocaudal model of development with oblique layer in the cardiac region by 14 weeks and body region by 16 weeks of gestation. The parietal cells were well developed by 12 weeks and the chief cells by 16 weeks with prominent secretory granules. In addition, the pyloric sphincter was a clearly defined anatomical sphincter developed by whorling of the inner circular layer at the pyloric end of the stomach evident from 12 weeks of gestation.

Conclusions: The results showed that the significant cellular morphogenesis occurred between 12-20 weeks of gestation. This aggregated data will serve as a catalyst in the understanding intricacy of embryogenesis, pathogenesis tracing of congenital anomalies and invention of new drugs.


Fetal stomach, Histogenesis, Confocal microscopy, Gastric glands, Muscularis externa, Pyloric sphincter

Full Text:



Standring S. Abdominal oesophagus and stomach. In: Gray's anatomy: the anatomical basis of clinical practice. 40th ed. China: Elsevier Limited; 2008: 1112-23.

Hamilton WJ, Mossman HW. Alimentary and respiratory systems, pleural and peritoneal cavities. In: Hamilton, Boyd, and Mossman's Human Embryology. 4th ed. London: W.Heffer and sons Ltd; 1972:337-61.

Aitchison M, Brown IL. Intrinsic factor in the human fetal stomach. An immunocytochemical study. J Anat. 1988;160:211-7.

Helander HF. Ultrastructure and function of gastric parietal cells in the rat during development. Gastroenterol. 1969;56(1):35-52.

David, Shier. In: Hole's essentials of human anatomy & physiology. 10th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education; 2009:421.

Liu H, Li YQ, Yu T, Zhao YA, Zhang JP, Zhang JN. Confocal endomicroscopy for in vivo detection of microvascular architecture in normal and malignant lesions of upper gastrointestinal tract. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008;23(1):56-61.

Janes SM, Lowell S, Hutter C. Gastrointestinal stem cells. J Pathol. 2002;197(4):492-509.

Holton TA, Vijayakumar V, Dallas DC, Guerrero A, Borghese RA, Lebrilla CB. Following the digestion of milk proteins from mother to baby. J Proteome Res. 2014;13(12):5777-83.

Keeley TM, Samuelson LC. Cytodifferentiation of the postnatal mouse stomach in normal and Huntingtin-interacting protein 1-related-deficient mice. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010;299(6):1241-51.

Kelly EJ, Brownlee KG, Newell SJ. Gastric secretory function in the developing human stomach. Early Hum Dev. 1992;31(2):163-6.

Pangtey B, Kaul JM, Mishra S. Histogenesis of gastric mucosa: A human foetal study. Ind J Med Spec. 2014;5(2):97-101.

Lawson HH. Definition of gastroduodenal junction in healthy subjects. J Clin Pathol. 1988;41(4):393-6.

Keet AD. The anatomical extent of the pyloric sphincteric cylinder, the pyloric mucosal zone and the pyloric antrum. S Afr Med J. 1982;62:329-33.

Lipkin M. Growth and Development of Gastrointestinal Cells. Annu Rev Physiol. 1985;47(1): 175-97.

Sewall H. The development and regeneration of the gastric glandular epithelium during foetal life and after birth. J Physiol. 1878;1(5):321-426.

Kelly EJ, Brownlee KG. When is the fetus first capable of gastric acid, intrinsic factor and gastrin secretion?. Neonatol. 1993;63(3):153-6.

Ménard D, Arsenault P, Monfils S. Maturation of human fetal stomach in organ culture. Gastroenterology. 1993;104(2):492-501.

Nomura S, Esumi H, Job C, Tan SS. Lineage and clonal development of gastric glands. Dev Biol. 1998;204(1):124-35.

Arey LB. In: Developmental anatomy: a textbook and laboratory manual of embryology.6th ed. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company; 1956:243-44.

Quain J, Schäfer EA, Sharpey W, Thomson A. Quain’s elements of anatomy. New York: William Wood; 1878:1-872 .

Johnson FP. The development of the mucous membrane of the œsophagus, stomach and small intestine in the human embryo. Am J Anat. 1910; 10(1):521-75.

Salenius P. On the ontogenesis of the human gastric epithelial cells. A histologic and histochemical study. Acta Anat. 1962;50(46):1-76.

Chimmalgi M, Sant SM. Study of fetal stomach under light microscope. J Anat Soc India. 2005;54(2):1-9.

De Hertogh G, Van Eyken P, Ectors N, Tack J, Geboes K. On the existence and location of cardiac mucosa: An autopsy study in embryos, fetuses, and infants. Gut. 2003;52(6):791-6.

Drozdowski LA, Clandinin T, Thomson AB. Ontogeny, growth and development of the small intestine: Understanding pediatric gastroenterology. World J Gastroenterol. 2010;16:787–99.

Ménard D, Monfils S, Tremblay E. Ontogeny of human gastric lipase and pepsin activities. Gastroenterol. 1995;108(6):1650-6.

Goldstein AM, Brothers MR, Davis EA. The architecture of the superficial layer of the gastric mucosa. J Anat. 1969;104(3):539-51.

Nomura Y. On the submicroscopic morphogenesis of parietal cell in the gastric gland of the human fetus. Z Anat Entwicklungsgesch. 1966;125(4):316-56.

Marciano T, Wershil BK. The ontogeny and developmental physiology of gastric acid secretion. Curr Gastroenterol Re. 2007;9:479-81.

Pangtey B, Kaul JM, Mishra S. Histogenesis of muscularis mucosa and muscularis externa of stomach: A human foetal study. J Clin Diag Res. 2017;11(8):01-3.

Lebenthal A, Lebenthal E. The Ontogeny of the Small Intestinal Epithelium. J Parenter Enter Nutr. 1999; 23(5):3-6.

Fu M, Tam PKH, Sham MH, Lui VCH. Embryonic development of the ganglion plexuses and the concentric layer structure of human gut: A topographical study. Anat Embryol (Berl). 2004; 208(1):33-41.

Bourdelat D, Barbet JP, Chevrel JP. Fetal development of the pyloric muscle. Surg Radiol Anat. 1992;14(3):223-6.

Moore LK, Persuad TV. The Digestive stystem. In: The Developing Human Clinically Oriented Embryology. 6th ed. Noida: Harcourt Asia Pte Ltd; 1999:273-6.

Udager A, Prakash A, Gumucio DL. Dividing the tubular gut: Generation of organ boundaries at the pylorus. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2010;96:35-62.