The gubernaculum connects the gonad to the inguinoscrotal region and is involved in testis descent. It rapidly develops in the male fetus, whereas development in the female fetus is lacking. Possible factors involved in gubernaculum development are androgens, anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), and insulin-like factor (Insl3). Sexual dimorphism in gubernaculum development correlated with the mitotic activity of cells in the gubernacular bulbs from male and female fetuses. Androgen receptor expression was restricted to the mesenchymal core of the gubernacular bulb, whereas skeletal muscle was detected in its outer layer. In an organ culture system devised to further study gubernaculum development in vitro, morphology of gubernacular explants grown in the presence of testes was comparable with that of gubernacula developed in vivo. Testicular tissue or medium containing R1881, a synthetic androgen, had a growth stimulatory effect on gubernacular explants compared with ovarian tissue or basal medium only. Moreover, Amh-/-, Amh+/-, and Insl3+/- testes stimulated the growth of gubernacular explants to the same extent as control testes. Insl3-/- testes, however, did not produce such an activity. This study reveals an essential role for both androgen and Insl3 in the gubernaculum outgrowth during transabdominal testis descent.

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Journal Endocrinology
Emmen, J.M.A, McLuskey, A, Adham, I.M, Engel, W, Grootegoed, J.A, & Brinkmann, A.O. (2000). Hormonal control of gubernaculum development during testis descent: Gubernaculum outgrowth in vitro requires both insulin-like factor and androgen. Endocrinology, 141(12), 4720–4727. doi:10.1210/en.141.12.4720