The development and structure of the mesentery

K.G. Byrnes, D. Walsh, L.G. Walsh, D.M. Coffey*, M.F. Ullah, R. Mirapeix, J. Hikspoors, W. Lamers, Y. Wu, X.Q. Zhang, S.X. Zhang, P. Brama, C.P. Dunne, I.S. O'Brien, C.B. Peirce, M.J. Shelly, T.G. Scanlon, M.E. Luther, H.D. Brady, P. DockeryK.W. McDermott, J.C. Coffey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Byrnes et al. reconstruct the developing mesentery from digitized embryonic datasets and human and animal cadavers using 3D digital and printed models. They confirm the mesentery remains a continuous organ in and on which all abdominal digestive organs develop and that at the foundation level, the abdomen comprises a mesenteric and non-mesenteric domain.The position of abdominal organs, and mechanisms by which these are centrally connected, are currently described in peritoneal terms. As part of the peritoneal model of abdominal anatomy, there are multiple mesenteries. Recent findings point to an alternative model in which digestive organs are connected to a single mesentery. Given that direct evidence of this is currently lacking, we investigated the development and shape of the entire mesentery. Here we confirm that, within the abdomen, there is one mesentery in which all abdominal digestive organs develop and remain connected to. We show that all abdominopelvic organs are organised into two, discrete anatomical domains, the mesenteric and non-mesenteric domain. A similar organisation occurs across a range of animal species. The findings clarify the anatomical foundation of the abdomen; at the foundation level, the abdomen comprises a visceral (i.e. mesenteric) and somatic (i.e. musculoskeletal) frame. The organisation at that level is a fundamental order that explains the positional anatomy of all abdominopelvic organs, vasculature and peritoneum. Collectively, the findings provide a novel start point from which to systemically characterise the abdomen and its contents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number982
Number of pages10
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2021


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