Conversion of androgen to estrogen by the human fetal ovary

F. W. George, J. D. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


The conversion of radiolabeled androgen to estrone and 17β-estradiol was assessed in tissues of human embryos that varied from phenotypically indifferent stages (1-3 cm crownrump length) to midgestation (15.1-20 cm crownrump length). Significant rates of estrogen synthesis were demonstrated only in ovaries, liver, and brain. Estrogen synthesis was undetectable in gonads from 1-3-cm fetuses, but by the 3.1-5-cm stage it had reached an average rate of 1.9 pmol h-1mg protein-1 in ovaries and remained at this level of activity through the latest stages examined. Estrogen formation was undetectable in testes at all stages examined, but the time of appearance of the capacity to form estrogens in the fetal ovary is similar to the onset of the capactiy of the fetal testis to synthesize testosterone. The capacity of the fetal ovary to form estrogen develops before histological differentiation of the tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-555
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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