Difference between Neural Crest and Neural Tube

Neural Crest

It is a group of temporary cells that arise from the embryonic ectoderm layer. These cells can give rise to melanocytes, bone, neurons, smooth muscle, etc. A neural crest is a group of specified cells that are formed at the border of the neural plate after gastrulation. Then, neurulation happens, during which the border of the neural plate converges to form a neural tube. Eventually, the neural crest cells delaminate from the neural tube region and migrate towards the periphery. From there, they differentiate into various cell types. The migration process of neural crest cells requires a highly synchronised cascade of events.

The abnormal migration, specification, differentiation and death of cells during embryonic development, results in a condition called neurocristopathies.

Neural Tube

The neural tube in developing vertebrates is considered as an embryonic predecessor to the CNS (central nervous system). The wall of the neural tube forms the base of the nervous system, and its centre forms the neural canal. During neurulation, the neural plate invaginates and results in a hollow tube called the neural tube.

The closure of the neural tube usually happens by the 4th week of pregnancy. If the neural tube is not closed properly, it results in birth defects which include the opening of the cranium or spine. Examples – Spina bifida, Encephalocele, Anencephaly, etc.

Explore: Central Nervous System

Difference between Neural Crest and Neural Tube

Neural Crest

Neural Tube

The neural crest cells originate from the neural tube and migrate towards the periphery.

The invagination of the neural plate during neurulation results in the formation of the neural tube.

It is a group of multipotent cells that can form melanocytes, bone, neurons, smooth muscle, etc.

It is considered as an embryonic precursor to the CNS (central nervous system).

It is formed as a result of interaction between the neural plate and the presumptive epidermis.

It is formed as a result of the invagination of the neural plate.

The abnormal migration, death or differentiation of neural crest cells during embryonic development, results in a condition called neurocristopathies.

The improper closure of the neural tube results in birth defects, which include the opening of the cranium or spine. Examples – Spina bifida, Encephalocele, Anencephaly, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference between Neural Crest and Neural Tube

What is a neural plate?

The thick and flat region that is anterior to the primitive node is called the neural plate. The border of the neural plate is called the neural folds. The signalling proteins are essential in the development of neural plates, and also in the subsequent development of neural tubes.

What is neurulation?

Neurulation is a folding process that leads to the formation of neural tubes from the neural plate. The whole process is vital for the proper development of the brain and spinal cord. The embryo during this neurulation stage is termed a neurula.

What is gastrulation?

The blastulation or early embryonic stage is followed by gastrulation. It leads to the development of germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm). This stage is followed by neurulation.

Also see: Blastocyst

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