Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 262–272 | Cite as

Pharyngeal pituitary: development, malformation, and tumorigenesis

  • A. Hori
  • D. Schmidt
  • E. Rickels
Regular paper


The development of the pharyngeal pituitary (PhP) in the fetal period was morphologically and, for the first time, immunohistochemically examined. PhP, found in every individual, begins its hormone production at the 17–18th week of gestation, that is, 4–8 weeks later than that of sellar pituitary (SP). Only 1 of 25 examined fetuses without any stigmata of developmental anomalies showed a residual pituitary fragment in the craniopharyngeal canal (craniopharyngeal pituitary, CPhP). An adult case of a rare clivus pituitary adenoma that we examined is demonstrated in discussing its relationship to PhP. Extracranial ectopic pituitary adenomas in the literature describe an exclusively sphenoid sinus/nasopharyngeal/ clivus location of the tumor. Their location corresponded exactly with that of PhP, so that the origin of the tumors can be reasonably speculated as PhP, although another origin, e.g., CPhP, can not be excluded. A variety of malformations of PhP, although very rare, have been described for the fist time during the systemic examination of 16 fetuses with different cranioneural malformations, such as agenesis, unseparated PhP from SP (pharyngosellar pituitary), fragmentation, and residual pituitary tissue in the open craniopharyngeal canal. However, developmental anomaly of PhP was not specifically associated with cranioneural malformations except in cases of chromosomal aberrations. The hormone production in PhP in malformation cases tended to be retarded. Absence of SP was recorded in 50% of anencephalics in the literature; however, PhP was identified in all anencephalics in our series, independent of the existence of SP. This supports the opinion that agenesis of SP in anencephalics seems to be false information.

Key words Development of pituitary gland Ectopic pituitary adenoma Pharyngeal pituitary Pituitary hormone Pituitary malformation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Hori
    • 1
  • D. Schmidt
    • 2
  • E. Rickels
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Neuropathology, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, D-30623 Hannover, Germany e-mail: Fax: +49-511-532-4550DE
  2. 2.Agnes-Karll Hospital, Laatzen/Hannover, GermanyDE
  3. 3.Department of Neurosurgery, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, GermanyDE

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