Mesonephric duct
Urogenital sinus of female human embryo of eight and a half to nine weeks old
Carnegie stage11
Precursorintermediate mesoderm
Gives rise tovasa deferentia, seminal vesicles, epididymides, Gartner's duct
Latinductus mesonephricus; ductus Wolffi
TEduct_by_E5. E5.
Anatomical terminology

The mesonephric duct, also known as the Wolffian duct, archinephric duct, Leydig's duct or nephric duct, is a paired organ that develops in the early stages of embryonic development in humans and other mammals. It is an important structure that plays a critical role in the formation of male reproductive organs. The duct is named after Caspar Friedrich Wolff, a German physiologist and embryologist who first described it in 1759.[1]

During embryonic development, the mesonephric duct forms as a part of the urogenital system.[2]


The mesonephric duct connects the primitive kidney, the mesonephros, to the cloaca. It also serves as the primordium for male urogenital structures including the epididymides, vasa deferentia, and seminal vesicles.


In both males and females, the mesonephric duct develops into the trigone of urinary bladder, a part of the bladder wall, but the sexes differentiate in other ways during development of the urinary and reproductive organs.


In a male, it develops into a system of connected organs between the efferent ducts of the testis and the prostate, namely the epididymis, the vas deferens, and the seminal vesicle. The prostate forms from the urogenital sinus and the efferent ducts form from the mesonephric tubules.

For this it is critical that the ducts are exposed to testosterone during embryogenesis. Testosterone binds to and activates androgen receptor, affecting intracellular signals and modifying the expression of numerous genes.[3]

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


In the female, with the absence of anti-Müllerian hormone secretion by the Sertoli cells and subsequent Müllerian apoptosis, the mesonephric duct regresses, although inclusions may persist. The epoophoron and Skene's glands may be present. Also, lateral to the wall of the vagina a Gartner's duct or cyst could develop as a remnant.


Sexual differentiation

Main article: Sexual differentiation


It is named after Caspar Friedrich Wolff who described the mesonephros and its ducts in his dissertation in 1759.[1]

Additional images

Diagrams to illustrate the changes in the cloaca in mammals during development. A, early embryonic stage, showing the cloaca receiving the urinary bladder, the rectum, and the Wolffian duct, as in the lower vertebrates. B, later stage, showing the beginning of the fold which divides the cloaca into a ventral urogenital sinus which receives the urinary bladder, Wolffian ducts, and ureters, and into a dorsal part which receives the rectum. C, further progress of the fold, dividing the cloaca into urogenital sinus and rectum; the ureter has separated from the Wolffian duct and is shifting anteriorly. D, completion of the fold, showing complete separation of the cloaca into ventral urogenital sinus and dorsal rectum.

See also


  1. ^ a b synd/2845 at Who Named It?
  2. ^ Du, Hongling; Taylor, Hugh S. (January 1, 2015). "Chapter 27 - Development of the Genital System". In Moody, Sally A. (ed.). Principles of Developmental Genetics (Second ed.). Academic Press. pp. 487–504. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-405945-0.00027-2. ISBN 9780124059450 – via ScienceDirect.
  3. ^ Hannema SE, Print CG, Charnock-Jones DS, Coleman N, Hughes IA (2006). "Changes in gene expression during Wolffian duct development". Horm. Res. 65 (4): 200–9. doi:10.1159/000092408. PMID 16567946. S2CID 2444520.