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Sex Dev. 2007;1(2):100-10. doi: 10.1159/000100031.

Helper function of the Wolffian ducts and role of androgens in the development of the vagina.

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1
Institute of Anatomy, Department of Experimental Embryology, University of Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany. drews@anatom.uni-tuebingen.de

Abstract

The development of a vagina as a separate outlet of the birth canal evolves at the transition of egg laying species to eutherian mammals. The derivation of the vagina from the Wolffian and Müllerian ducts and the contribution of the urogenital sinus are still open questions. Here experiments with the complete androgen receptor defect in the testicular feminisation (Tfm) mouse are reported which show that the vagina is formed by caudal migration of Wolffian and Müllerian ducts. The cranial ends of the Wolffian ducts successively regress while the Müllerian ducts fuse to form the vagina. Immunohistochemistry of the androgen receptor reveals that the caudal ends of the Wolffian ducts remain in the indifferent stage and therefore have been mistaken as sinuvaginal bulbs. The Wolffian ducts do not contribute to the vagina itself but have a helper function during downward movement of the vaginal bud in the female. In the male the caudal ends serve as androgen operated switch for the negative control of vaginal development. The results indicate that the rudimentary vagina in the complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS) corresponds to non obliterated caudal ends of the Müllerian ducts. Selective atresia of the vagina in the MRKH (Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser) syndrome may be explained by the failure of Wolffian and Müllerian ducts to descend caudally.

PMID:
18391520
DOI:
10.1159/000100031
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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