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Germinal Epithelium

Germinal Epithelium

Epithelium germinativum

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Quick Facts

The germinal epithelium is the former term for the thickened coelomic epithelium covering the gonad from earliest development; misnamed because it was thought to give rise to the primordial germ cells (Dorland, 2011).

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Structure and/or Key Feature(s)

A mesothelial layer of columnar or cuboidal cells covers the surface of the ovary. This is incorrectly referred to as the “germinal epithelium.” This germinal epithelium is continuous with the squamous mesothelium that covers the mesovarium. The tunica albuginea, a dense connective tissue capsule, is deep to the germinal epithelium (Ross and Pawlina, 2006; Mescher, 2013).

Anatomical Relations

The germinal epithelium covers the surface of the ovary.

List of Clinical Correlates

About 70% of ovarian cancers are tumors that arise from the epithelial surface of the ovary (Ross and Pawlina, 2006).


Dorland, W. (2011) Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd edn. Philadelphia, USA: Elsevier Saunders.

Mescher, A. (2013) Junqueira's Basic Histology: Text and Atlas. 13th edn.: McGraw-Hill Education.

Ross, M. H. and Pawlina, W. (2006) Histology: A text and atlas. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Complete Anatomy

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Complete Anatomy