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      Experimental manipulation of sexual differentiation in wallaby pouch young treated with exogenous steroids.

      Development (Cambridge, England)

      drug effects, Animals, Estradiol, pharmacology, Female, Macropodidae, physiology, Male, Marsupialia, Microscopy, Electron, Mullerian Ducts, Ovary, ultrastructure, Sex Differentiation, Testis, Testosterone, Wolffian Ducts

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          We have investigated the effects of androgen or oestrogen treatment of female or male tammar wallabies from the day of birth, when the gonads are histologically undifferentiated, to day 25 of pouch life, when the gonads and the Wolffian and Müllerian ducts have differentiated and the testes have migrated through the inguinal canal. Female tammars treated with testosterone propionate (24-50 mg kg-1 day-1) orally for 25 days had enlarged Wolffian and Müllerian ducts. Mammary and pouch development, however, was indistinguishable from that of control females. The treatment had no apparent effect on ovarian development, or on ovarian position in the abdomen. The phallus of males and females was similar in size, and neither experimental treatment had a significant effect on its size at day 25. Male tammars treated with oestradiol benzoate (1.2-2.5 mg kg-1 day-1) orally for 25 days had gross hypertrophy of the urogenital sinus. Testicular morphology was abnormal; many of the germ cells appeared necrotic, the seminiferous tubules were of reduced diameter, and there were few Leydig cells and increased amounts of fibrous tissue between the tubules. The cortex of these gonads contained some areas which had an ovarian appearance, lacking tubules and containing numerous germ cells. The Müllerian ducts of control males had regressed, but this was prevented by oestrogen treatment, suggesting an inhibition of either Müllerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS) production or its action. Normal testicular migration was inhibited in treated males; the testes remained high in the abdomen, similar in position to the ovaries of control females, whilst control males all had testes in the inguinal region. The gubernaculum and processus vaginalis of control males extended into the scrotum, but in treated males they terminated outside it. Oestrogen treatment had no effect on the size of the scrotum and did not induce mammary or pouch development. These experiments show that marsupials, like eutherians, have a dual hormonal control of Wolffian and Müllerian development. By contrast, the initial development of the mammary glands, pouch, gubernaculum and scrotum does not appear to be under hormonal control and is therefore likely to be autonomous and dependent on genotype.

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