Wolffian duct

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


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.


Wolffian duct (red) degenerates in females (middle image) and develops in males (bottom).

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, it develops 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 ducts are exposed to testosterone during embryogenesis. Testosterone binds to and activates androgen receptor, affecting intracellular signals and modifying the expression of numerous genes.[1]

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 . As a residual 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.


It is named after Caspar Friedrich Wolff who described the mesonephros and its ducts in his dissertation in 1759. [2]

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See also


  1. 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.
  2. Template:WhoNamedIt

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de:Urnierengang uk:Вольфів канал


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