Development of the human female reproductive tract.
Development of the human female reproductive tract is reviewed from the ambisexual stage to advanced development of the uterine tube, uterine corpus, uterine cervix and vagina at 22 weeks. Historically this topic has been under-represented in the literature, and for the most part is based upon hematoxylin and eosin stained sections. Recent immunohistochemical studies for PAX2 (reactive with Müllerian epithelium) and FOXA1 (reactive with urogenital sinus epithelium and its known pelvic derivatives) shed light on an age-old debate on the derivation of vaginal epithelium supporting the idea that human vaginal epithelium derives solely from urogenital sinus epithelium. Aside for the vagina, most of the female reproductive tract is derived from the Müllerian ducts, which fuse in the midline to form the uterovaginal canal, the precursor of uterine corpus and uterine cervix an important player in vaginal development as well. Epithelial and mesenchymal differentiation markers are described during human female reproductive tract development (keratins, homeobox proteins (HOXA11 and ISL1), steroid receptors (estrogen receptor alpha and progesterone receptor), transcription factors and signaling molecules (TP63 and RUNX1), which are expressed in a temporally and spatially dynamic fashion. The utility of xenografts and epithelial-mesenchymal tissue recombination studies are reviewed.
Cunha, GR; Robboy, SJ; Kurita, T; Isaacson, D; Shen, J; Cao, M; Baskin, LS
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