Expression of anti-Müllerian hormone during normal and pathological gonadal development: association with differentiation of Sertoli and granulosa cells

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Oct;84(10):3836-44. doi: 10.1210/jcem.84.10.6047.


The ontogeny of expression of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) was examined by immunohistochemistry in 135 human gonadal tissue specimens of various developmental age, ranging from 6 weeks of fetal development to 38 yr of postnatal age. The series included specimens from normal testes and ovaries and from individuals either with pathological conditions affecting gonadal development or with idiopathic infertility manifested as azoospermia or severe oligozoospermia. AMH expression was found only in Sertoli and granulosa cells. A 6-week-old fetal testis at the indifferent gonad stage did not yet express AMH. The protein was first visible at 8.5 weeks of development, when sex cords have not yet been formed. Afterward, a majority of testicular specimens, including those from pathological conditions, strongly expressed AMH through fetal development and childhood until puberty. Markedly prolonged expression of AMH was observed in a 20-yr-old 46,XY female with androgen insensitivity syndrome, who retained prepubertal testicular morphology. In normal testes, the switch-off of AMH expression was usually associated with the appearance of primary spermatocytes, suggesting that their presence had an inhibitory effect on AMH. However, in adolescent boys lacking germ cells because of cancer treatment and in a majority of infertile adult men with idiopathic germ cell aplasia, AMH expression was also down-regulated despite the complete lack of spermatogenesis. The decrease in AMH expression thus reflects the terminal differentiation of Sertoli cells and is probably only partially dependent upon a regulatory factor associated with the onset of meiosis. In fetal ovaries, AMH was first detected at 36 weeks gestation in granulosa cells of preantral follicles. Thus, the onset of ovarian expression is at the end of fetal life and not in infancy as previously reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Genitalia / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins*
  • Gonads / embryology*
  • Gonads / growth & development*
  • Granulosa Cells / cytology
  • Growth Inhibitors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Sertoli Cells / cytology
  • Testicular Hormones / metabolism*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Testicular Hormones
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone