Summary. Fetal ovaries of 14·5-day-old rats were cultured for periods of up to 19 days in control medium or in medium conditioned by the preliminary culture of testes from fetal or young rats. In all ovaries, after 12 days of culture in either medium, epithelial cords were noted having an aspect identical to that of seminiferous cords present in fetal testes explanted at 14·5 days and also cultured for 12 days, i.e. the epithelial cords appeared in ovaries when there was no 'male' or testicular influence.
The appearance of histological preparations suggested that the disappearance of the germ cells might bring about a reorganization of the follicular cells in epithelial cords during the differentiation period of the first follicles. With ovaries cultured in conditioned medium, degeneration of the germ cells was more marked, follicles were rare and intra-ovarian cords were greater in number than in ovaries cultured in control medium. The ovaries thus transformed produced the anti-Miillerian hormone (AMH) although they lacked the "germinostatic activity" normally developed by testes of fetal or young rats. This germinostatic activity prevents the multiplication of oogonia when the testes and ovaries are co-cultured in vitro. The transformed ovaries therefore do not have all the functional capacities of fetal testes.
Keywords: ovarian cords; anti-Müllerian hormone; oocyte depletion; germinostatic activity; male influence; rat