Human fetal adenohypophysis: Electron microscopic and ultrastructural immunocytochemical analysis

Sylvia L. Asa, Kalman Kovacs, Eva Horvath, Noemi E. Losinski, F. László, Istvan Domokos, William C. Halliday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The pituitary glands were removed from 63 human fetuses from 5 weeks of gestation to term and studied by electron microscopy and ultrastructural immunocytochemistry to document the development of cell differentiation and hormone production in the adenohypophysis. At 5 weeks of gestation, Rathke’s cleft was lined by columnar epithelium with abundant cytoplasmic glycogen and occasional secretory granules. By 6 weeks of gestation, cells resembling cortico-trophs were identified; in 8-week-old fetuses, type I microfilaments were found in those cells. Well-differentiated somatotrophs were seen in adenohypophyses of 8-to 9-week-old fetuses. Although secretory granules were numerous, the Golgi complex was inconspicuous in early fetal glands. After 10 weeks of gestation, there was a change with morphologic evidence of active hormone secretion; large Golgi regions and sparsely granulated cells were found. Some somatotrophs at this stage contained aggregates of type II microfilaments which resembled the fibrous bodies of sparsely granulated somatotroph adenomas. Densely granulated mammosomatotrophs containing growth hormone and prolactin were identified at 12 weeks of gestation. Cells with characteristics of the glycoprotein hormone cell line were seen in pituitaries at 12 weeks of gestation: Thyrotrophs and gonadotrophs were identified after 15 weeks. Typical lactotrophs were not recognized before 23 weeks, but were numerous in pituitaries of fetuses older than 35 weeks. This study documents for the first time the existence of a bihormonal mammosomatotroph in the human fetal pituitary and confirms that somatotrophs and lactotrophs, the two acidophil cell types, are embryologically related. Sparsely granulated somatotrophs appear after densely granulated somatotrophs at a time when fetal serum growth hormone reaches acromegalic levels, and it may be that the two cell types reflect differences in the hormonal milieu. The ultrastructural features of developing adenohypophysial cells resemble those of adenomas found in adult pituitaries, and fetal cytodifferentiation may help to clarify the significance of morphologic variants of adenomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-431
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroendocrinology
Volume48
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1988

Fingerprint

Anterior Pituitary Gland
Somatotrophs
Electrons
Pregnancy
Fetus
Lactotrophs
Secretory Vesicles
Hormones
Actin Cytoskeleton
Adenoma
Growth Hormone
Growth Hormone-Secreting Pituitary Adenoma
Thyrotrophs
Gonadotrophs
Golgi Apparatus
Pituitary Gland
Fetal Development
Glycogen
Prolactin
Cell Differentiation

Keywords

  • Adenohypophysis
  • Human fetus
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Mammosomatotrophs
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Asa, S. L., Kovacs, K., Horvath, E., Losinski, N. E., László, F., Domokos, I., & Halliday, W. C. (1988). Human fetal adenohypophysis: Electron microscopic and ultrastructural immunocytochemical analysis. Neuroendocrinology, 48(4), 423-431. https://doi.org/10.1159/000125044

Human fetal adenohypophysis : Electron microscopic and ultrastructural immunocytochemical analysis. / Asa, Sylvia L.; Kovacs, Kalman; Horvath, Eva; Losinski, Noemi E.; László, F.; Domokos, Istvan; Halliday, William C.

In: Neuroendocrinology, Vol. 48, No. 4, 1988, p. 423-431.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Asa, SL, Kovacs, K, Horvath, E, Losinski, NE, László, F, Domokos, I & Halliday, WC 1988, 'Human fetal adenohypophysis: Electron microscopic and ultrastructural immunocytochemical analysis', Neuroendocrinology, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 423-431. https://doi.org/10.1159/000125044
Asa, Sylvia L. ; Kovacs, Kalman ; Horvath, Eva ; Losinski, Noemi E. ; László, F. ; Domokos, Istvan ; Halliday, William C. / Human fetal adenohypophysis : Electron microscopic and ultrastructural immunocytochemical analysis. In: Neuroendocrinology. 1988 ; Vol. 48, No. 4. pp. 423-431.
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