Fetal development of deep back muscles in the human thoracic region with a focus on transversospinalis muscles and the medial branch of the spinal nerve posterior ramus

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Fetal development of human deep back muscles has not yet been fully described, possibly because of the difficulty in identifying muscle bundle directions in horizontal sections. Here, we prepared near-frontal sections along the thoracic back skin (eight fetuses) as well as horizontal sections (six fetuses) from 14 mid-term fetuses at 9–15 weeks of gestation. In the deep side of the trapezius and rhomboideus muscles, the CD34-positive thoracolumbar fascia was evident even at 9 weeks. Desmin-reactivity was strong and homogeneous in the superficial muscle fibers in contrast to the spotty expression in the deep fibers. Thus, in back muscles, formation of the myotendinous junction may start from the superficial muscles and advance to the deep muscles. The fact that developing intramuscular tendons were desmin-negative suggested little possibility of a secondary change from the muscle fibers to tendons. We found no prospective spinalis muscle or its tendinous connections with other muscles. Instead, abundant CD68-positive macrophages along the spinous process at 15 weeks suggested a change in muscle attachment, an event that may result in a later formation of the spinalis muscle. S100-positive intramuscular nerves exhibited downward courses from the multifidus longus muscle in the original segment to the rotatores brevis muscles in the inferiorly adjacent level. The medial cutaneous nerve had already reached the thoracolumbar fascia at 9 weeks, but by 15 weeks the nerve could not penetrate the trapezius muscle. Finally, we propose a folded myotomal model of the primitive transversospinalis muscle that seems to explain a fact that the roofing tile-like configuration of nerve twigs in the semispinalis muscle is reversed in the multifidus and rotatores muscles.

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