Effect of DiEthylStilboestrol on Gonad Development

Gonadal feminization and feminization of the quail following DES exposure

1st Abstract – 1979

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The effect of diethylstilboestrol on gonad development in quail embryos has been quantitatively analysed.

Early treatment of Quail eggs by DES promotes a transient feminization of the gonads in genetic males and a strong stimulation of the Müllerian ducts. The left ovotestis results from the juxtaposition of a testicular medulla and an induced female-type cortex, which develops follicles and a characteristic 17 beta-HSD activity. The right testis is reduced but keeps a consistent structure. The medulla of the treated gonads shows, in both sexes, an inhibition of delta 5-3 beta HSD activity during embryonic development. After hatching, this specific enzyme then develops in the steroidogenic cells. These results are compared with others obtained with estradiol and also in chick. The discussion deals also with the effects of these estrogens on the endogenous abilities and specific responses of the gonads in relation to sex differentiation factors.

2nd Abstract – 1995

The effect of diethylstilboestrol on gonad development in quail embryos has been quantitatively analysed. Quail embryos at 4 days of incubation were treated with diethylstilboestrol (DES), using the egg dipping method. At 10 days of incubation, embryos were removed and killed by decapitation. Tissues were prepared for chromosome analysis, and the parts of the abdomen containing the gonads were prepared for serial sectioning and quantitative assessment. Left gonads of DES-treated male embryos resembled ovaries histologically, while their right gonads were markedly reduced in size. Right gonads of DES-treated female embryos were also further reduced by treatment with DES. There was no statistically significant effect by DES treatment on the size of left gonads, although the ratio of left compared with right gonadal volumes was highly significant. Since, in birds, the left embryonic gonad has ambisexual potential, while the potential of the right gonad is exclusively masculine, these results exemplify the adverse effect exerted by oestrogen on male sexual development in vertebrates.

  • Feminization of the quail by early diethylstilbestrol treatment: histoenzymological investigations on steroid dehydrogenases in the gonadsNCBI, PMID: 294849, 1979;68(2):85-98.
  • A quantitative investigation of gonadal feminization by diethylstilboestrol of genetically male embryos of the quail Coturnix coturnix japonicaNCBI, PMID: 7616493, 1995 Mar;103(2):223-6.
  • Full text: Journal of Reproduction and Fertility, doi: 10.1530/jrf.0.1030223
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