On the basis of the anatomical studies presented the following inferences or conclusions are drawn.
1. In the course of development there appear in the vascular membranes of chick embryos arterial vessels of all calibers, namely, capillaries, small arteries with 2 or 3 cell layers, and large arteries formed of endothelium, longitudinal and circular layers of muscle and adventitia.
2. In none of the stages are elastic fibers developed. Only in the most central portion of the umbilical artery, in that portion namely which is to be regarded as belonging to the embryo, are elastic fibers discoverable.
3. The structure of capillaries is histologically the same at all stages. The small arteries of embryos 10 days old resemble histologically those of 18. At no stage of development are appearances of degeneration nor of fat to be found in arteries.
When the physiological results of our investigations are compared with the anatomical ones the following comments may be made. In respect to Paragraph 1 of the anatomical results we may remark that when we study the different forms of the wall of arterial vessels the most delicate vessels consisting of single cells exhibit the greatest irritability. Those which are built of 3 to 4 muscle layers are less irritable. Stouter vessels appearing for the first time at 10 days of incubation require stronger stimuli to bring about the same reaction. In respect to Paragraph 2 of the anatomical results we may make this comment. The absence of elastic fibers in all arteries of the embryonic membranes throughout the period of their development is important in defining a physiological property of the larger vessels.
The medium and larger vessels, beginning with the 4th day of incubation, contract differently from normal adult human arteries. In the contracted state they appear in cross section not as small replicas of larger circular structures, but take on a new form. During the course of contraction they become flat and appear band-like as would a garden hose when it is compressed by a weight. In examining a vessel so contracted one sees on rotating the vessel either a broad side or a narrow one. It is for this reason that such arteries appear alternately narrow as a line or broad as a band. It is not until the narrow artery is elevated with a hook that its uniform band-like nature becomes evident. The absence of elastic tissue, the presence of which in all probability is mainly responsible for the usual shape of arteries on cross section, permits one to see how the phenomenon which has been described may come about. Concerning Paragraph 3 of the anatomical conclusions we have this to say. According to the histological investigation a stage of degeneration is wanting in the blood vessels of the embryonic membrane in a sense in which one is accustomed to see such changes in other blood vessel systems during the course of life. On the day of hatching the constituent cells and fibers of the arteries of all calibers are anatomically the same as in their early development. These vessels do not die as the result of aging: The nutrient fluid ceases to flow because of contraction of the umbilical vessels. The blood vessels die in complete possession of their physiological irritability and anatomical integrity. The unaltered irritability of blood vessels of the same caliber at all ages is consonant with their unaltered anatomical structure.