AskDefine | Define allantois

Dictionary Definition

allantois n : vascular fetal membrane that develops from the hindgut in embryonic higher vertebrates (reptiles, birds and mammals)

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A sac, having a number of functions, that develops in the alimentary canal of the embryos of mammals, birds and reptiles.


Extensive Definition

Allantois (plural allantoides or allantoises) is a part of a developing animal conceptus (which consists of all embryonic and extra-embryonic tissues). It helps the embryo exchange gases and handle liquid waste.
The allantois, along with the amnion and chorion (other embryonic membranes), identify humans as amniotes, along with reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and other mammals.


This sac-like structure is primarily involved in nutrition and excretion, and is webbed with blood vessels.
The function of the allantois is to collect liquid waste from the embryo, as well as to exchange gases used by the embryo.

In reptiles, birds, and monotremes

The structure first evolved in reptiles and birds as a reservoir for nitrogenous waste, but also as a means for oxygenation of the embryo.
Oxygen is absorbed by the allantois through the egg shell. The allantois functions similarly in monotremes, which are egg-laying mammals.

In most marsupials

In most marsupials, the allantois is avascular, having no blood vessels, but still serves the purpose of storing nitrogenous (N2) waste.
Also, most marsupial allantoises do not fuse with the chorion. An exception is the allantois of the bandicoot, which has a vasculature, and fuses with the chorion.

In placental mammals (Eutheria)

In placental mammals, the allantois is part of and forms an axis for the development of the umbilical cord.
  • The mouse allantois consists of mesodermal tissue, which undergoes vasculogenesis to form the mature umbilical artery and vein.
  • The human allantois is an endodermal evagination of the developing hindgut which becomes surrounded by the mesodermal connecting stalk. The connecting stalk forms the umbilical vasculature. These endodermal and mesodermal tissues together form the human umbilical cord. The allantois later becomes the urachus, which removes nitrogenous waste from the fetal bladder.


A patent allantois can result in urachal cyst.


The word comes from the Greek word for sausage, which the allantois resembles.

Additional images

cat fetus in midgestation: 1 umbilicus, 2 amnion, 3 allantois, 4 Yolk sac, 5 developing marginal hematoma, 6 maternal part of placenta (endometrium)


allantois in German: Allantois
allantois in Polish: Omocznia
allantois in Russian: Аллантоис
allantois in Swedish: Allantois
allantois in French: allantoïde
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