Embryology and Congenital Malformations of the Female Genital Tract

  • Jan Langman
  • Doris Burda Wilson


In mammalian embryos the first indication of sex differentiation appears in the form of the primordial germ cells. Although considerable controversy has long existed on whether these cells arise within the gonad or in an extragonadal site, it is now generally accepted that they originate in the wall of the yolk sac close to the allantois8,27,30 (Fig. 1.1a). From various experimental and histochemical studies5,24 it has been concluded that the germ cell line begins with the primordial germ cells and that these cells appear at an early stage of development in the yolk sac entoderm. Subsequently they are incorporated into the wall of the hindgut and finally migrate through the dorsal mesentery to the gonadal ridges. In these ridges they multiply, differentiate, and give rise to the definitive germ cells (Fig. 1.1b). Hence, the early primordial germ cells form a continuous cell line from early embryonic development to the definitive germ cells in the adult stages of life.13


Primordial Germ Cell External Genitalia Wolffian Duct Genital Ridge Mullerian Duct 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Blandau RJ, White BJ, Rumery RE (1963) Observations on the movements of the living primordial germ cells in the mouse. Fertil Steril 14: 482PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bulmer D (1957) The development of the human vagina. J Anat 91: 490PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burns RK Jr (1956) Hormones versus constitutional factors in the growth of embryonic sex primordia in the opossum. Am J Anat 98: 35PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Carr DH, Haggar RA, Hart AG (1968) Germ cells in the ovaries of XO female infants. Am J Clin Pathol 49: 521PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chiquoine AD (1954) The identification, origin and migration of the primordial germ cells in the mouse embryo. Anat Rec 118: 135PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Clark JM, Eddy EM (1975) Fine structural observations on the origin and associations of primordial germ cells of the mouse. Dev Biol 47: 136PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Eddy EM, Clark JM (1975) Electron microscopic study of migrating primordial germ cells in the rat. In: Hess M (ed) Electron microscopic concepts of secretion. The ultrastructure of endocrine and reproductive organs. New York, Wiley, pp 151–168Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Everett NB (1945) The present status of the germ cell problem in vertebrates. Biol Rev 26: 45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Forsberg JG (1973) The cervicovaginal epithelium: Its origin and development. Am J Obstet Gynecol 115: 1025PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Forsberg JG (1974) Induction of conditions leading to cancer in the genital tract by estrogen during the differentiation phase of the genital epithelium. In: Raspe G, Bernhard S (eds). Hormones and embryonic development: Advances in the biosciences. Oxford, Pergamon, p 139Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Forsberg JG (1976) Morphogenesis and differentiation of the cervicovaginal epithelium. In: Jordan J, Singer A (eds). The cervix. London, WB Saunders, p 3Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Forsberg JG, Abro A (1971) Ultrastructural differences between the sinus and the Mullerian epithelium of the mouse vaginal anlage. Zeit F Anat Entwicklungs. 135: 67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Franchi LL, Mandl AM, Zuckerman S (1962) The development of the ovary and the process of oogenesis. In: Zuckerman S, Mandl AM, Eckstein P (eds) The ovary. London, Academic Press, Vol 1, pp 1–87Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gillman J (1948) The development of the gonads in man, with a consideration of the role of fetal endocrines and the histogenesis of ovarian tumors. Contrib Embryol 32: 81Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gropp A, Ohno S (1966) The presence of a common embryonic blastema for ovarian and testicular parenchymal (follicular, interstitial and tubular) cells in cattle, Bos taurus. Z Zellforsch 74: 505PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hamerton JL (1971) Human cytogenetics, Vol 1. Clinical cytogenetics. New York, Academic PressGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hayles AB, Nolan RB Masculinization of female fetus, possibly related to administration of progesterone during pregnancy: Report of two cases. Proc Staff Mtg Mayo Clin 33: 200Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hiersche JD (1970) Funktionelle Morphologie des fetalen und kindlichen cervicalen Drunsenfeldes im Uterus. Ergeb Anat Entwicklungs 43: 1Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Holyoke EA, Beber BA (1958) Cultures of gonads of mammalian embryos. Science 128: 1082Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jost A (1971) Embryonic sexual differentiation (morphology, physiology, abnormalities). In: Jones H Jr, Scott WW (eds) Hermaphroditism, genital anomalies and related endocrine disorders, 2nd ed. Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, p 16Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lillie FR (1916) The theory of the free-martin. Science 43: 611PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lillie FR (1922) The etiology of the freemartin. Vet Rec 2: 167Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    McKelvey JL, Baxter JS (1935) Abnormal development of the vagina and genitourinary tract. Am J Obstet Gynecol 29: 267Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mintz B, Russell ES (1957) Gene-induced embryo-logical modifications of primordial germ cells in the mouse. J Exptl Zool 134: 207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Mossman HW (1973) The embryology of the cervix. In: Blandau R, Moghissi K (eds). The biology of the cervix. Chicago, University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Müller J (1930) Bildungsgeschichte der genitalien aus anatomischen Untersuchungen an embryonen des menschen und der thiere. Dusseldorf, Arnz.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Nieuwkoop PD (1949) The present status of the problem of the “Keimbahn” in the vertebrates. Experientia 5: 308PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    O’Rahilly R (1973) The embryology and Anatomy of the uterus. In: Norris H, Hertig A (eds). The uterus. Baltimore, Williams & WilkinsGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ozdzenski W (1967) Observations on the origin of primordial germ cells in the mouse. Zool Pol 17: 367Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pinkerton JHM, McKay DG, Adams C, Hertig AT (1961) Development of the human ovary—A study using histochemical techniques. Obstet Gynecol 18: 152PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31..
    Schlegel RJ, Gardner LI Ambiguous and abnormal genitalia in infants: Differential diagnosis and clinical management. In: Gardner LI (ed) Endocrine and genetic diseases of childhood. Philadelphia, WB SaundersGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Spiegelman M, Bennett D (1973) A light- and electron-microscopic study of primordial germ cells in the early mouse embryo. J Embryol Exptl Morphol 30: 97Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Walker BE (1980) Reproductive tract anomalies in mice after prenatal exposure to DES. Teratology 21: 313PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wilkins L (1950) The Diagnosis and treatment of endocrine disorders in childhood and adolescence. Springfield, Ill., Charles C ThomasGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Wilkins L (1957) Diagnosis and treatment of endocrine disorders in childhood and adolescence, 2nd ed. Springfield, Ill., Charles C ThomasGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Witschi E (1948) Migration of the germ cells of human embryos from the yolk sac to the primitive gonadal folds. Contrib Embryol Carnegie Inst 32: 67Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Witschi E (1951) Embryogenesis of the adrenal and the reproductive glands. Recent Prog Horm Res 6: 1Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Witschi E (1956) Development of vertebrates. Philadelphia, WB SaundersGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Witschi E (1962) Embryology of the ovary. In: Grady HG, Smith DE (eds) The ovary. Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Witschi, E (1967) Biochemistry of sex differentiation in vertebrate embryos. In: Weber R (ed) The biochemistry of animal development. New York, Academic Press, Vol 2, pp 193–225Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Zamboni L, Merchant H (1973) The fine morphology of mouse primordial germ cells in extragonadal locations. Am J Anat 137: 299PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Langman
  • Doris Burda Wilson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations