Ductus Deferens Development

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Historic testis drawing

Draft Page - notice removed when completed.

The male internal genital tract leaving each of the male testis is the ductus deferens (vas deferens; Latin "carrying-away vessel"; plural: vasa deferentia).

The excretory duct of the testis that is the continuation of the canal of the epididymis. Develops from the paired mesonephric ducts (Wolffian ducts).

Anatomically beginning at the lower part of the tail of the epididymis it is at first very tortuous, but gradually becoming less twisted it ascends along the posterior border of the testis and medial side of the epididymis, and, as a constituent of the spermatic cord, traverses the inguinal canal to the abdominal inguinal ring.

There are also separate pages describing: Y Chromosome | spermatozoa | testis | epididymis | ductus deferens | prostate | penis | Category:Male

Historic Embryology
Caspar Friedrich Wolff (1734-1794)
Theoria Generationis 1774.jpg

Caspar Friedrich Wolff (1734-1794) was a German embryologist and anatomist best known today for identifying the Wolffian duct (mesonephric duct; ductus deferens, epididymis), Wolffian body (mesonephros) and Wolffian cyst (mesonephric origin uterine broad ligament cyst) that bear his name. Thought also to be a founder of the germ layer theory. His doctorate dissertation Theoria generationis (1774) discarded the developmental theory of preformation. Later in his career, his teaching in Berlin was opposed by the professors of the Medical-Surgical College, who had guild privileges to teach medicine.

Genital Links: genital | Lecture - Medicine | Lecture - Science | Lecture Movie | Medicine - Practical | primordial germ cell | meiosis | endocrine gonad‎ | Genital Movies | genital abnormalities | Assisted Reproductive Technology | puberty | Category:Genital
Female | X | X inactivation | ovary | corpus luteum | oocyte | uterus | vagina | reproductive cycles | menstrual cycle | Category:Female
Male | Y | SRY | testis | spermatozoa | ductus deferens | penis | prostate | Category:Male
Historic Embryology - Genital 
General: 1901 Urinogenital Tract | 1902 The Uro-Genital System | 1904 Ovary and Testis | 1912 Urinogenital Organ Development | 1914 External Genitalia | 1921 Urogenital Development | 1921 External Genital | 1942 Sex Cords | 1953 Germ Cells | Historic Embryology Papers | Historic Disclaimer
Female: 1904 Ovary and Testis | 1904 Hymen | 1912 Urinogenital Organ Development | 1914 External Genitalia | 1914 Female | 1921 External Genital | 1927 Female Foetus 15 cm | 1927 Vagina | 1932 Postnatal Ovary
Male: 1887-88 Testis | 1904 Ovary and Testis | 1904 Leydig Cells | 1906 Testis vascular | 1909 Prostate | 1912 Prostate | 1914 External Genitalia | 1915 Cowper’s and Bartholin’s Glands | 1920 Wolffian tubules | 1935 Prepuce | 1935 Wolffian Duct | 1942 Sex Cords | 1943 Testes Descent | Historic Embryology Papers | Historic Disclaimer

Some Recent Findings

  • SLC9A3 Affects Vas Deferens Development and Associates with Taiwanese Congenital Bilateral Absence of the Vas Deferens[1] "The pathophysiology of Taiwanese congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD) is different from that in Caucasians. In particular, major cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) mutations and cystic fibrosis are absent in the former. DISCUSSION: Our findings build upon previous data associated with CBAVD pathogenesis. Here, we now report for the first time an association between CBAVD and loss of SLC9A3 and propose that specific defects in the reproductive duct due to SLC9A3 variants drive CBAVD development. CONCLUSION: The data implicate loss of SLC9A3 as a basis of Taiwanese CBAVD and highlight SLC9A3 function in reproduction." OMIM - SLC9A3
  • Reciprocal Spatiotemporally Controlled apoptosis Regulates Wolffian Duct Cloaca Fusion[2] "The epithelial Wolffian duct (WD) inserts into the cloaca (primitive bladder) before metanephric kidney development, thereby establishing the initial plumbing for eventual joining of the ureters and bladder. Defects in this process cause common anomalies in the spectrum of congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT). However, developmental, cellular, and molecular mechanisms of WD-cloaca fusion are poorly understood. Through systematic analysis of early WD tip development in mice, we discovered that a novel process of spatiotemporally regulated apoptosis in WD and cloaca was necessary for WD-cloaca fusion. Aberrant RET tyrosine kinase signaling through tyrosine (Y) 1062, to which PI3K- or ERK-activating proteins dock, or Y1015, to which PLCγ docks, has been shown to cause CAKUT-like defects. Cloacal apoptosis did not occur in RetY1062F mutants, in which WDs did not reach the cloaca, or in RetY1015F mutants, in which WD tips reached the cloaca but did not fuse. Moreover, inhibition of ERK or apoptosis prevented WD-cloaca fusion in cultures, and WD-specific genetic deletion of YAP attenuated cloacal apoptosis and WD-cloacal fusion in vivo Thus, cloacal apoptosis requires direct contact and signals from the WD tip and is necessary for WD-cloacal fusion. These findings may explain the mechanisms of many CAKUT." apoptosis
More recent papers  
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More? References | Discussion Page | Journal Searches | 2019 References | 2020 References

Search term: Ductus Deferens Embryology | Ductus Deferens Development | Vas Deferens Development

Older papers  
These papers originally appeared in the Some Recent Findings table, but as that list grew in length have now been shuffled down to this collapsible table.

See also the Discussion Page for other references listed by year and References on this current page.

Ductus Deferens Histology

Ductus Deferens (Vas deferens) (Stain - Haematoxylin Eosin)
Overview Epithelium
Ductus deferens 01.jpg Ductus deferens 02.jpg
  • mucosa forms low longitudinal folds.
  • lined by a pseudostratified columnar epithelium.
  • cells have long stereocilia.
  • lamina propria is unusually rich in elastic fibres.
  • muscularis is well developed (up to 1.5 mm thick)
    • thick circular layer of smooth muscle between thinner inner and outer longitudinal layers.
    • structure palpable in the spermatic cord.
  • ductus surrounded by an adventitia.
  • mucosa forms low longitudinal folds.
  • lined by a pseudostratified columnar epithelium.
  • cells have long stereocilia.
  • lamina propria is unusually rich in elastic fibres.


Male Infertility Genes

Selected genes in Male Infertility
Gene abbreviation Name Gene Location Online Mendelian
Inheritance in Man (OMIM)
HUGO Gene Nomenclature
Committee (HGNC)
GeneCards (GCID) Diagnosis
AURKC Aurora kinase C 19q13.43 603495 11391 GC19P057230 Macrozoospermia
CATSPER1 Cation channel sperm-associated 1 11q13.1 606389 17116 GC11M066034 Asthenozoospermia
CFTR Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator 7q31.2 602421 1884 GC07P117465 Obstructive azoospermia
DNAH1 Dynein axonemal heavy chain 1 3p21.1 603332 2940 GC03P052350 Asthenozoospermia
DPY19L2 Dpy-19-like 2 gene 12q14.2 613893 19414 GC12M063558 Globozoospermia
GALNTL5 Polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase-like 5 7q36.1 615133 21725 GC07P151956 Asthenozoospermia
MAGEB4 MAGE family member B4 Xp21.2 300153 6811 GC0XP030260 Azoospermia
NANOS1 Nanos C2HC-type zinc finger 1 10q26.11 608226 23044 GC10P119029 Azoospermia
NR0B1 Nuclear receptor subfamily 0 group B member 1 Xp21.2 300473 7960 GC0XM030322 Azoospermia
NR5A1 Nuclear receptor subfamily 5 group A member 1 9q33.3 184757 7983 GC09M124481 Azoospermia
SOHLH1 Spermatogenesis and oogenesis-specific basic helix–loop–helix 1 9q34.3 610224 27845 C09M135693 Azoospermia
vSPATA16 Spermatogenesis-associated 16 3q26.31 609856 29935 GC03M172889 Globozoospermia
SYCE1 Synaptonemal complex central element protein 1 10q26.3 611486 28852 GC10M133553 Azoospermia
TAF4B TATA-box binding protein-associated factor 4b 18q11.2 601689 11538 GC18P026225 Azoospermia
TEX11 Testis expressed 11 Xq13.1 300311 11733 GC0XM070528 Azoospermia
TEX15 Testis expressed 15, meiosis and synapsis associated 8p12 605795 11738 GC08M030808 Azoospermia
WT1 Wilms tumour 1 8p12 607102 12796 GC11M032365 Azoospermia
ZMYND15 Zinc-finger MYND-type containing 15 17p13.2 614312 20997 GC17P004740 Azoospermia
  Table data source[3] (table 1)    Links: fertilization | spermatozoa | testis | Male Infertility Genes | Female Infertility Genes | oocyte | ovary | Genetic Abnormalities | ART

  Asthenozoospermia - (asthenospermia) term for reduced spermatozoa motility. Azoospermia - term for no spermatozoa located in the ejaculate. Globozoospermia - term for spermatozoa with a round head and no acrosome.

International Classification of Diseases

 ICD-11 5A81 Testicular dysfunction or testosterone-related disorders
  • LB51 Anorchia or microorchidia - A disorder affecting males, caused by an abnormality occurring in sex development during the antenatal period. This disorder is characterized by individuals who are born with absence of the testes, or with testes that are deficient in size and function. Confirmation is by physical examination, identification of low testosterone levels but elevated follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone levels in a blood sample, or imaging.
  • LB58 Polyorchidism - A condition of the testes, caused by determinants arising during the antenatal period. This condition is characterized by the presence of more than two testicles. Confirmation is by imaging.
  • 5A81.1 Testicular hypofunction - In pre-puberty, a disorder characterized by atrophied testes and sterility, abnormal height and absence of secondary sex characteristics. In post-puberty, a disorder characterized by depressed sexual function, loss of sex drive and sterility, muscle weakness and osteoporosis (due to loss of the androgen anabolic effect).
  • GB04.0 Azoospermia - Any condition of the genital system affecting males, caused by obstruction of the reproductive tract, abnormal hormone levels, testicular failure, or inadequate production of spermatozoa. These conditions are characterized by the absence of a measurable level of sperm cells in semen, and very low levels of fertility. Confirmation is by the absence of spermatozoa in the sediment of a centrifuged sample of ejaculate.
  • GB03 Atrophy of testis - A condition of the testis, caused by apoptosis of the cells due to diminished cellular proliferation, decreased cellular volume, decreased function, ischemia, malnutrition, disease, infection, mutation, or hormonal changes. This condition is characterized by a partial or complete decrease in size and function of the testis tissue.
  • GB00 Hydrocele or spermatocele - A condition characterized by an accumulation of serous fluid in the tunica vaginalis testis or along the spermatic cord, and cystic swelling containing fluid and dead spermatozoa of the testicular epididymis, rete testis or efferent ductuli.
  • LB52 Cryptorchidism - A disorder affecting males, caused by an abnormality occurring in sex development during the antenatal period. This disorder is characterized by the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum. This disorder may also present with reduced fertility, psychological implications, or increased risk of testicular germ cell tumours. Confirmation is by imaging, karyotyping, or identification of male sex hormones in a blood sample.
genital abnormalities |  ICD-11

Additional Images


Historic Disclaimer - information about historic embryology pages 
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Pages where the terms "Historic" (textbooks, papers, people, recommendations) appear on this site, and sections within pages where this disclaimer appears, indicate that the content and scientific understanding are specific to the time of publication. This means that while some scientific descriptions are still accurate, the terminology and interpretation of the developmental mechanisms reflect the understanding at the time of original publication and those of the preceding periods, these terms, interpretations and recommendations may not reflect our current scientific understanding.     (More? Embryology History | Historic Embryology Papers)

Watson EM. The development of the seminal vesicles in man. (1918) Amer. J Anat. 24(4): 395 - 439.


  1. Wu YN, Chen KC, Wu CC, Lin YH & Chiang HS. (2019). SLC9A3 Affects Vas Deferens Development and Associates with Taiwanese Congenital Bilateral Absence of the Vas Deferens. Biomed Res Int , 2019, 3562719. PMID: 30956978 DOI.
  2. Hoshi M, Reginensi A, Joens MS, Fitzpatrick JAJ, McNeill H & Jain S. (2018). Reciprocal Spatiotemporally Controlled Apoptosis Regulates Wolffian Duct Cloaca Fusion. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. , 29, 775-783. PMID: 29326158 DOI.
  3. Harper JC, Aittomäki K, Borry P, Cornel MC, de Wert G, Dondorp W, Geraedts J, Gianaroli L, Ketterson K, Liebaers I, Lundin K, Mertes H, Morris M, Pennings G, Sermon K, Spits C, Soini S, van Montfoort APA, Veiga A, Vermeesch JR, Viville S & Macek M. (2018). Recent developments in genetics and medically assisted reproduction: from research to clinical applications. Eur. J. Hum. Genet. , 26, 12-33. PMID: 29199274 DOI.


de Mello Santos T & Hinton BT. (2019). We, the developing rete testis, efferent ducts, and Wolffian duct, all hereby agree that we need to connect. Andrology , , . PMID: 31033257 DOI.

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, March 5) Embryology Ductus Deferens Development. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Ductus_Deferens_Development

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