Anatomic nomenclature and 3-dimensional regional model of the human ovary: call for a new paradigm

Kathleen E. O'Neill, Jacqueline Y. Maher, Monica M. Laronda, Francesca E. Duncan, Richard D. LeDuc, Marla E. Lujan, Kutluk H. Oktay, Alison M. Pouch, James H. Segars, Elizabeth L. Tsui, Mary B. Zelinski, Lisa M. Halvorson, Veronica Gomez-Lobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The ovaries are the female gonads that are crucial for reproduction, steroid production, and overall health. Historically, the ovary was broadly divided into regions defined as the cortex, medulla, and hilum. This current nomenclature lacks specificity and fails to consider the significant anatomic variations in the ovary. Recent technological advances in imaging modalities and high-resolution omic analyses have brought about the need for revision of the existing definitions, which will facilitate the integration of generated data and enable the characterization of organ subanatomy and function at the cellular level. The creation of these high-resolution multimodal maps of the ovary will enhance collaboration and communication among disciplines and between clinicians and researchers. Beginning in March 2021, the Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development invited subject-matter experts to participate in a series of workshops and meetings to standardize ovarian nomenclature and define the organ's features. The goal was to develop a spatially defined and semantically consistent terminology of the ovary to support collaborative, team science–based endeavors aimed at generating reference atlases of the human ovary. The group recommended a standardized, 3-dimensional description of the ovary and an ontological approach to the subanatomy of the ovary and definition of follicles. This new greater precision in nomenclature and mapping will better reflect the ovary's heterogeneous composition and function, support the standardization of tissue collection, facilitate functional analyses, and enable clinical and research collaborations. The conceptualization process and outcomes of the effort, which spanned the better part of 2021 and early 2022, are introduced in this article. The institute and the workshop participants encourage researchers and clinicians to adopt the new systems in their everyday work to advance the overarching goal of improving human reproductive health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-275.e4
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Human BioMolecular Atlas Program
  • Senescence Network
  • Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms
  • Uber-anatomy ontology
  • bioinformatics
  • female reproductive anatomy
  • fertility preservation
  • gynecology
  • oncofertility
  • oncopreservation
  • ontology
  • ovarian follicle
  • ovarian mapping
  • ovary atlas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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