Regulation of Wolffian duct development

Sabine E. Hannema, Ieuan A. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveyAcademicpeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Wolffian ducts (WDs) are the embryonic structures that form the male internal genitalia. These ducts develop in both the male and female embryo. However, in the female they subsequently regress, whereas in the male they are stabilised by testosterone. The WDs then develop into separate but contiguous organs, the epididymis, vas deferens and seminal vesicles. Recently, considerable progress has been made in identifying genes that are involved in these different stages of development which is described in this review. In addition, WD development in (atypical forms of) cystic fibrosis and intersex disorders, such as the complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency and LH-receptor defects, is discussed. The apparent increase in male reproductive tract disorders is briefly discussed from the perspective of the potential endocrine-disrupting effects of the numerous chemicals in the environment to which the developing male foetus can be exposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalHormone research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Epididymis
  • Growth factors
  • Sexual development
  • Testosterone
  • Vas deferens
  • Wolffian duct

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