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Endocrinology. 2004 Jul;145(7):3346-52. Epub 2004 Apr 1.

Penile development is initiated in the tammar wallaby pouch young during the period when 5alpha-androstane-3alpha,17beta-diol is secreted by the testes.

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Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Gate 12, Royal Parade, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Virilization of the urogenital tract is under the control of testicular androgens in all mammals. In tammar young, prostate differentiation begins between d 20 and d 40 under the control of the testicular androgen 5alpha-androstane-3alpha,17beta-diol (5alpha-adiol), but uncertainties exist about the control of penile development. We performed longitudinal studies up to d 150 of pouch life to define normal penile development and the effects of androgen administration and castration. In control animals the male phallus was longer than the female phallus by d 48. Closure of the urethra in males begins around d 60 and continues to at least d 150. Administration of supraphysiological doses of testosterone to females caused penile development equivalent to that of the male and also induced partial closure of the urethral groove by d 150. Castration of male pouch young at d 25 prevented penile development, whereas the penis in males castrated at d 40, 80, or 120 had partial closure of the urethral groove. Administration of 5alpha-adiol to females from d 20-40 also caused partial closure of the urethral groove and some growth of the phallus at d 150, whereas 5alpha-adiol treatment from d 40-80 or 80-120 caused some penile growth but had little effect on urethral development. These findings, together with the fact that we found no sex differences in plasma levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, 5alpha-adiol, dehydroepiandrosterone, or androstenedione from d 51-227, clearly indicate that the action of 5alpha-adiol between d 20 and 40 imprints later differentiation of the male penis.

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