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      Pituitary Morphology in Anencephalic Human Fetuses

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          Anencephalic fetuses provide a model of pituitary development in the absence of the hypothalamus. We studied pituitaries of 10 anencephalic fetuses at various stages of gestation using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue with immunocytochemistry for known adenohypophysial hormones, the transcription factors Pit-1 and SF-1, cytokeratins and S-100 protein. Ten age- and sex-matched fetuses with no endocrine abnormality were controls. At 17-18 weeks of gestation, pituitaries of 4 anencephalics had no posterior lobe; the number and size of cells containing adenohypophysial hormones and the transcription factors were indistinguishable from controls, however, juxtanuclear cytokeratin-positive fibrous bodies were inconspicuous in anencephalics and were prominent in the adenohypophyses of controls. At 26-28 weeks of gestation, there was a marked reduction in number and staining intensity of cells containing SF-1, α-subunit of glycoprotein hormones and both gonadotropin β-subunits in the adenohypophyses of 2 anencephalics. After 32 weeks, corticotropes were reduced in number and size, and gonadotropes were almost entirely absent; in contrast, somatotropes, lactotropes and thyrotropes were numerous. S-100 protein immunoreactivity was increased in anencephalic pituitaries after 32 weeks, when it was found in numerous cells that did not have the usual morphology of folliculo-stellate cells.

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          Author and article information

          S. Karger AG
          09 April 2008
          : 65
          : 3
          : 164-172
          Department of Pathology, Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto, Ont., Canada
          127177 Neuroendocrinology 1997;65:164–172
          © 1997 S. Karger AG, Basel

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          Page count
          Pages: 9
          Adenohypophysis: Cell Biology, Morphology, Colocalization


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