Mesenchyme

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 16 Mar 2022

Mesenchyme, or mesenchymal connective tissue, is a type of undifferentiated connective tissue. It is predominantly derived from the embryonic mesoderm, although may be derived from other germ layers, e.g. mesenchyme derived from neural crest cells (ectoderm).

The term mesenchyme is often used to refer to the morphology of embryonic cells that, unlike epithelial cells, can migrate easily. Epithelial cells are polygonal, polarized in an apical-basal orientation, and organized into closely adherent sheets. Mesenchyme is characterized by a matrix that contains a loose aggregate of reticular fibrils and unspecialized cells capable of developing into connective tissue: bone, cartilage, lymphatics and vascular structures.

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