Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 158, Issue 4, pp 497–507 | Cite as

Prolactin and growth hormone cells in the human hypophysis: A study with immunoenzyme histochemistry and differential staining

  • N. S. Halmi
  • J. A. Parsons
  • S. L. Erlandsen
  • Theresa Duello


Growth hormone and prolactin cells were immunostained in human hypophyses with antibody against rat growth hormone or prolactin and the peroxidase-antiperoxidase complex. Growth hormone cells were round and, in normal pituitaries, arranged in sizable groups. Prolactin cells occurred singly and were less numerous; they were often extensively branched. Only a few prolactin cells stained with carmoisine. Incubation of the antibody with an excess of the appropriate antigen greatly diminished or abolished immunostaining; absorption of anti-prolactin with growth hormone often enhanced it.

Prolactin cells were somewhat hypertrophied and hyperplastic in a neonate. Many of them stained with carmoisine.

An even greater hypertrophy and hyperplasia of these cells (which pushed apart the growth hormone cells) was found in a lactating woman. Immunostained giant prolactin cells were also observed. Staining of the prolactin cells with carmoisine was extensive. Upon prolonged exposure to anti-growth hormone antibody, ACTH/MSH cells also showed immunostaining which was abolished by absorption of the antiserum with growth hormone but not with synthetic 1–24ACTH.

Growth hormone cells evidently correspond to the α acidophils of Romeis, prolactin cells in lactation to his η cells; the relation of his ɛ cells to the pleomorphic “resting” prolactin cells is not clear.

Key words

Hypophysis Man Prolactin Growth hormone Immunostaining 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baker, B. L.: Studies on hormone localization with emphasis on the hypophysis. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 18, 1–18 (1970)Google Scholar
  2. Baker, B. L., Midgley, A. R., Jr., Gersten, B. E., Yu, Y.-Y.: Differentiation of growth hor-moneand prolactin-containing acidophils with peroxidase-labeled antibody Anat. Rec. 164, 163–172 (1969)Google Scholar
  3. Beck, J. S., Currie, A. R.: Immunofluorescence localization of growth hormone in the human pituitary gland and of a related antigen in the syncytiotrophoblast. Vitam. and Horm. 25, 89–121 (1967)Google Scholar
  4. Brookes, L. D.: A stain for differentiating two types of acidophil cells in the rat pituitary. Stain Technol. 43, 41–42 (1968)Google Scholar
  5. El Etreby, M. F., Günzel, P.: Sex hormones—effect on prolactin cells. Acta endocr. (Kbh.), Suppl. 189, 3–15 (1974)Google Scholar
  6. Erdheim, J., Stumme, F.: Über die Schwangerschaftsveränderungen bei der Hypophyse. Beitr. path. Anat. 46, 1–132 (1909)Google Scholar
  7. Erlandsen, S. L., Parsons, J. A., Redick, J. A., Burke, J., Van Orden, D. E., Van Orden, L. S.: Unlabeled antibody enzyme immunocytochemistry using heterologous antibodies. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 22, 295 (1974) (Abstract)Google Scholar
  8. Foncin, J.-F.: Etudes sur l'hypophyse humaine au microscope électronique. Path. et Biol. 14, 893–902 (1966)Google Scholar
  9. Frantz, A. G., Kleinberg, D. L., Noel, G. L.: Studies on prolactin in man. Recent Progr. Hormone Res. 28, 527–590 (1972)Google Scholar
  10. Goluboff, L. G., Ezrin, C.: Effect of pregnancy on the somatotroph and prolactin cell of the human hypophysis. J. clin. Endocr. 29, 1533–1538 (1969)Google Scholar
  11. Guyda, H., Robert, F., Colle, E., Hardy, J.: Histologic, ultrastructural and hormonal characterization of a pituitary tumor secreting both HGH and prolactin. J. clin. Endocr. 36, 531–547 (1973)Google Scholar
  12. Halmi, N. S.: The current status of human pituitary cytophysiology. N. Z. med. J. 180, 551–556 (1974)Google Scholar
  13. Herlant, M.: Etude critique de deux techniques nouvelles destinées à mettre en évidence les différentes catégories cellulaires présentes dans la glande pituitaire. Bull. Micr. appl. 10, 37–44 (1960)Google Scholar
  14. Herlant, M., Pasteels, J.-L.: Histophysiology of the human anterior pituitary. Meth. Achiev. exp. Path. 3, 250–305 (1967)Google Scholar
  15. Kracht, J., Hachmeister, U., Breustedt, H.-J., Zimmermann, H.-D.: Immunhistologische Hormonlokalisation im Hypophysenvorderlappen des Menschen. Mat. Med. Nordmark 19, 224–238 (1967)Google Scholar
  16. Leznoff, A., Fishman, J., Goodfriend, L., McGarry, E., Beck, J. C., Rose, B.: Localization of fluorescent antibodies to human growth hormone in human anterior pituitary glands. Proc. Soc. exp. Biol. (N.Y.) 104, 232–235 (1960)Google Scholar
  17. McCormick, W. F., Halmi, N. S.: Absence of chromophobe adenomas from a large series of pituitary tumors. Arch. Path. 92, 231–238 (1971)Google Scholar
  18. Parsons, J. A., Erlandsen, S. L.: Ultrastructural immunocytochemical localization of prolactin in rat anterior pituitary by use of the unlabeled antibody enzyme method. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 22, 340–351 (1974)Google Scholar
  19. Pasteels, J. L.: Etude expérimentale des cellules responsables de la sécrétion de prolactine chez les Mammifères. In: Cytologie de le adénohypophyse, Benoit, J., DaLage, C., eds., p. 137–148. vol. 128. Paris: CNRS 1963Google Scholar
  20. Pasteels, J. L., Gausset, P., Danguy, A., Ectors, F., Nicoll, C. S., Varavudhi, P.: Morphology of the lactotropes and somatotropes in man and rhesus monkeys. J. clin. Endocr. 34, 959–967 (1972)Google Scholar
  21. Peake, G. T., McKeel, D. W., Jarett, L., Daughaday, W. H.: Ultrastructural, histologic and hormonal characterization of a prolactin-rich human pituitary tumor. J. clin. Endocr. 29, 1383–1393 (1969)Google Scholar
  22. Phifer, R. F., Orth, D. N., Spicer, S. S.: Specific demonstration of the human hypophyseal adrenocortico-melanotropic (ACTH/MSH) cell. J. clin. Endocr. 39, 684–692 (1974)Google Scholar
  23. Phifer, R. F., Spicer, S. S., Orth, D. N.: Specific demonstration of the human hypophyseal cells which produce adrenocorticotropic hormone. J. clin. Endocr. 31, 347–361 (1970)Google Scholar
  24. Purves, H. D.: Cytology of the adenohypophysis. In: The pituitary gland. Harris, G. W., Donovan, B. T., eds., vol. 1, p. 147–232. Berkeley: University of California Press 1966Google Scholar
  25. Romeis, B.: Hypophyse. In: Handbuch der mikroskopischen Anatomie des Menschen, Möllendorff, W. v., ed, vol. VI/3. Berlin: Springer 1940Google Scholar
  26. Schelin, U.: Chromophobe and acidophil adenomas of the human pituitary gland. A light and electron microscopic study. Acta path, microbiol. scand., Suppl. 158, 1–80 (1962)Google Scholar
  27. Sherwood, L. M.: Human prolactin. New Engl. J. Med. 284, 774–777 (1971)Google Scholar
  28. Stratmann, I. E., Ezrin, C., Sellers, E. A.: Estrogen-induced transformation of somatotrophs into mammotrophs in the rat. Cell Tiss. Res. 152, 229–238 (1974)Google Scholar
  29. Sternberger, L. A., Hardy, P. H., Jr., Cuculis, J. J., Meyer, H. G.: The unlabeled antibody enzyme method of immunohistochemistry: preparation and properties of soluble antigenantibody complex (horseradish peroxidase-antiperoxidase) and its use in identification of spirochetes. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 18, 315–333 (1970)Google Scholar
  30. Zimmerman, E. A., Defendini, R., Frantz, A. G.: Prolactin and growth hormone in patients with pituitary adenomas: a correlative study of hormone in tumor and plasma by immunoperoxidase technique and radioimmunoassay. J. clin. Endocr. 38, 577–585 (1974)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. S. Halmi
    • 1
  • J. A. Parsons
    • 1
  • S. L. Erlandsen
    • 1
  • Theresa Duello
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

Personalised recommendations