Germinal epithelium (female)

The ovarian surface epithelium, also called the germinal epithelium of Waldeyer,[1] is a layer of simple squamous-to-cuboidal epithelial cells covering the ovary.[2]

Germinal epithelium (female)
Section of the ovary. 1. Germinal epithelium. 2. Central stroma. 3. Peripheral stroma. 4. Bloodvessels. 5. Vesicular follicles in their earliest stage. 6, 7, 8. More advanced follicles. 9. An almost mature follicle. 9'. Follicle from which the ovum has escaped. 10. Corpus luteum.
Anatomical terminology

The term germinal epithelium is a misnomer as it does not give rise to primary follicles.[3]


These cells are derived from the mesoderm during embryonic development and are closely related to the mesothelium of the peritoneum. The germinal epithelium gives the ovary a dull gray color as compared with the shining smoothness of the peritoneum; and the transition between the mesothelium of the peritoneum and the cuboidal cells which cover the ovary is usually marked by a line around the anterior border of the ovary.


Ovarian surface epithelium can give rise to surface epithelial-stromal tumor.


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. Nishida T, Nishida N (2006). "Reinstatement of "germinal epithelium" of the ovary". Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 4: 42. doi:10.1186/1477-7827-4-42. PMC 1560142. PMID 16923182.
  2. Auersperg, N.; Wong, A. S.; Choi, K. C.; Kang, S. K.; Leung, P. C. (2001). "Ovarian Surface Epithelium: Biology, Endocrinology, and Pathology". Endocrine Reviews. 22 (2): 255–288. doi:10.1210/er.22.2.255. PMID 11294827.
  3. Ross M, Pawlina W (2011). Histology: A Text and Atlas (6th ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 832. ISBN 978-0-7817-7200-6.
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