Sexual Determination and Differentiation During Embryonic and Fetal Development of New Zealand Rabbit Females

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Lara Carolina Mario; Jéssica Borghesi; Adriana Raquel de Almeida da Anunciação; Carla Maria de Carvalho Figueiredo Miranda; Amilton César dos Santos; Phelipe Oliveira Favaron; Daniela Martins dos Santos; Daniel Conei; Bélgica Vásquez; Mariano del Sol & Maria Angélica Miglino


The aim of this study was to know the embryonic and fetal development of the female rabbit genital system (Oryctolagus cuniculus), describing its main phases and the moment of sexual differentiation. Eleven pregnant New Zealand female rabbits were used in different gestational phases. The day of coitus was determined as day 0. For each stage a minimum of two animals was considered. The samples were obtained every two days from the ninth day post-coitus (dpc) until the 28th dpc. The gestational period was divided in two: animals with undifferentiated sex (group 1) and animals with differentiated sex (group 2). The ages of embryos and fetuses were estimated through the crown-rump method. Subsequently, embryos and fetuses were dissected, fixed and processed to be embedded in paraffin (Histosec). The histological analysis was performed on sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Immunohistochemical analysis to determine sexual differentiation was performed on samples from the 16th, 18th and 28th dpc. Desert Hedgehog (Dhh) and Indian Hedgehog (Ihh) primary antibodies, respectively, were used to identify cells of the male and female germinal epithelium. The immunohistochemical results showed that at the 16th dpc, female sexual differentiation was evident, since positive expression of the Ihh protein was observed. Sexual differentiation was obtained through histological analysis on the 18th dpc and through anatomical observation of the external genitalia on the 24th dpc. Knowing the characteristics of the embryonic and fetal development of the female rabbit genital system as well as the moment of sexual differentiation make it possible to establish bases for future research that address the physiology and pathology of these organs. Thus, any alteration in the chain of events of sexual determination and differentiation must search for an explanation from the knowledge of the possible normal mechanisms affected.

KEY WORDS: Rabbit; Embryo; Fetus; Sexual differentiation.

How to cite this article

MARIO, L. C.; BORGHESI, J.; DA ANUNCIAÇÃO, A. R. A.; MIRANDA, C. M. C. F.; DOS SANTOS, A. C.; FAVARON, P. O.; DOS SANTOS, D. M.; CONEI, D.; VÁSQUEZ, B.; DEL SOL, M. & MIGLINO, M. A. Sexual determination and differentiation during embryonic and fetal development of New Zealand rabbit females. Int. J. Morphol., 36(2):677-686, 2018.