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Wolffian duct

Friday 13 June 2008

The Wolffian duct (also known as archinephric duct, Leydig’s duct, mesonephric duct, or nephric duct) is a paired organ found in mammals including humans during embryogenesis.

It connects the primitive kidney Wolffian body (or mesonephros) to the cloaca and serves as the anlage for certain male reproductive organs.

In both the male and the female the Wolffian duct develops in to the trigone of urinary bladder, a part of the bladder wall. However, further development differentiates between the sexes in the development of the urinary and reproductive organs.

Male development

In a male, the Wolffian ducts develop into a system of connected organs between the testis and the prostate, namely the rete testis, the efferent ducts, the epididymis, the vas deferens, the seminal vesicle, and the prostate.

For this it is critical that the Wolffian ducts are exposed to testosterone during embryogenesis. Testosterone binds to and activates androgen receptor, affecting intracellular signals and modifying the expression of numerous genes.

In the mature male, the function of this system is to store and mature sperm, and provide accessory semen fluid.

Female development

In the female, in the absence of testosterone support, the Wolffian ducts regresses,and inclusions may persist.

The epoophoron and Skene glands may be present. Also, lateral to the wall of the vagina a Gartner duct or cyst could develop as a remnant.

See also

- Mullerian ducts

  • Mullerian derivatives

- fetal genitalia
- human reproductive system
- sexual differentiation