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Baillieres Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Apr;12(1):17-33.

Embryology and endocrinology of genital development.

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  • 1National Scientific Research Council (CONICET), Hospital de Niños, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


In the human male fetus, testes develop by the 7th week and begin to secrete two hormones: anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) induces the regression of müllerian ducts, the anlagen of the uterus, fallopian tubes and upper vagina, upon binding to a specific membrane receptor, whereas testosterone induces the differentiation of the wolffian ducts into the epididymes, vasa deferentia and seminal vesicles. In some target tissues, testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone, which is responsible for masculinization of the urogenital sinus and external genitalia. Both androgens act upon binding to the same nuclear receptor. In the absence of AMH and androgen action, or example in the female or in abnormal male differentiation, the internal and external genital primordia differentiate following the female pathway, even in the absence of ovaries. In males, an impaired function of the AMH-dependent pathway results in the persistent müllerian duct syndrome, a disorder characterized by the presence of uterus and fallopian tubes in otherwise normally virilized boys. Several mutations found in the AMH and AMH-receptor genes explain the pathophysiology of this syndrome.

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