, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 355-364

Development of the hypophysis of the arctic lamprey, Lampetra japonica

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The hypophysis of early larval stages, from the moment of hatching on the 18th day after fertilization to the 101st day of larval life, of the arctic lamprey Lampetra japonica was studied with scanning and transmission electron microscopes. A solid cord of cells of the distal part of the nasopharyngeal duct represents the early adenohypophysis. On the 20th day after fertilization, several of the epithelial cells of this structure showed first indications of secretory activity with an extensive Golgi apparatus and small electron-dense secretory granules. On the 26th day, non-secretory, stellate (=supporting) cells and secretary cells can be distinguished. Already on the 39th day, two different parts can be distinguished in the adenohypophysis: the pars distalis with cells containing small dense granules, and the pars intermedia with cells containing larger granules of medium density. The number of granulated cells increases steadily; on the 101st day two pars distalis cell types can be distinguished. The neurohypophysis consists of a thin anterior and a thick posterior part. Already on the 20th day single nerve terminals in the ependymal layer of the diencephalic (=infundibular) floor contain dense elementary granules. The number of granule-containing terminals increases steadily; on the 101st day almost all terminals contain granules. The present observations suggest an early secretory function of the lamprey hypophysis.