The aim of this study performed in the embryonic chick wing is to test the ability of the tendons to form and develop in the absence of the muscle bellies.
The experiments were performed on 2-day chick embryos by destroying a portion of the somitic mesoderm by local X-irradiation. The irradiated part included the wing somite level 15—20 and extended three somites (or presumptive somites) in front and two to six presumptive somites in the rear of the wing somite level. The wings of the operated side were examined histologically 3—8 days after the X-irradiation.
The radio-destruction of the somitic mesoderm totally inhibited or severely impaired the development of the forearm muscles. But, despite the absence of the flexor and extensor muscles the differentiation of the distal manus tendons could be observed. This differentiationoccurred at the same time and in the same position as in controls. However, these tendons were transient structures. They disappeared within three days after their individuation. Two mechanisms that progressed in proximo-distal direction were involved in their resorption: cellular dislocation and cell death.
We conclude that tendons start to develop autonomously from the muscle bulks, but for their maintenance and further development they require connexion to a muscle belly.