Gonadal development and tumor formation at the crossroads of male and female sex determination

Sex Dev. 2011;5(4):167-80. doi: 10.1159/000329477. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


Malignant germ cell tumor (GCT) formation is a well-known complication in the management of patients with a disorder of sex development (DSD). DSDs are defined as congenital conditions in which development of chromosomal, gonadal, or anatomical sex is atypical. DSD patients in whom the karyotype - at least at the gonadal level - contains (a part of) the Y chromosome are at increased risk for neoplastic transformation of germ cells, leading to the development of the so-called 'type II germ cell tumors'. However, tumor risk in the various forms of DSD varies considerably between the different diagnostic groups. This contribution integrates our actual knowledge on the pathophysiology of tumor development in DSDs, recent findings on gonadal (mal)development in DSD patients, and possible correlations between the patient's phenotype and his/her risk for germ cell tumor development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y / genetics
  • Disorders of Sex Development* / complications
  • Disorders of Sex Development* / genetics
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein L2
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal* / complications
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal* / genetics
  • Ovary / embryology*
  • Risk Factors
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor / physiology
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors
  • Sex Determination Processes* / genetics
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics
  • Testis / embryology*


  • FOXL2 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein L2
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor
  • SOX9 protein, human
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors