, Volume 86, Issue 5, pp 459–464 | Cite as

Catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes in the rat pituitary

An immunohistochemical study
  • N. Bäck
  • S. Soinila
  • T. H. Joh
  • L. Rechardt


The catecholamine-containing nerve fibers of the rat pituitary were studied by immunohistochemical demonstration of the catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DBH) and phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT). Immunohistochemical demonstration of TH confirms earlier catecholamine fluorescence histochemical studies showing a fine network of varicose fibers in both the intermediate and the neural lobe, with the most dense aggregation of fibers at the border between the lobes. DBH-immunoreactive fibers were much less in number, and confined to the neural lobe, where both vascular and parenchymal fibers were seen. With the antibody to PNMT bright staining was seen in all the glandular cells of the intermediate lobe, while the neural lobe was negative. No immunoreactive structures were observed in the anterior lobe.

Functionally the study confirms the presence of an extensive dopaminergic innervation of the neurointermediate lobe, giving an anatomical basis for the tonic inhibitory action of dopamine on the intermediate lobe cells and for recent observations attributing dopamine a local regulatory function also in the neural lobe. In addition to vascular noradrenaline-containing fibers as described earlier the study shows parenchymal DBH-immunoreactive fibers in the neural lobe, suggesting a local role for noradrenaline in this lobe. The nature of the cellular PNMT-immunoreactivity in the intermediate lobe remains to be established. The cellular localization of the PNMT-immunoreactivity was distinctly different than that of the α-MSH-immunoreactivity within the intermediate lobe cells and reserpine treatment did not affect the PNMT-immunoreactivity, although it induced a heterogenous depletion of α-MSH and related peptides. Cross-reaction of the PNMT-antibody with the known secretory products of these cells thus seems unlikely. Biochemical studies are needed in order to show whether an actual PNMT activity is present.


Tyrosine Hydroxylase Intermediate Lobe Dopaminergic Innervation Immunohistochemical Demonstration Varicose Fiber 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ahonen M, Soinila S, Joh TH (1987) Pre- and postnatal development of rat retroperitoneal paraganglia. J Auton Nerv Syst (in press)Google Scholar
  2. Bäck N, Rechardt L (1985) The effect of reserpine on the pars intermedia of the rat pituitary. An electron-microscopic, fluorescence-histochemical and immunohistochemical study. Cell Tissue Res 241:1–8Google Scholar
  3. Barden N, Chevillard C, Saavedra JM (1982) Diurnal variations in rat posterior pituitary catecholamine levels. Neuroendocrinology 34:148–150Google Scholar
  4. Baumgarten HG, Björklund A, Holstein AF, Nobin A (1972) Organization and ultrastructural identification of the catecholamine nerve terminals in the neural lobe and pars intermedia of the rat pituitary. Z Zellforsch 126:483–517Google Scholar
  5. Björklund A (1968) Monoamine-containing fibers in the pituitary neuro-intermediate lobe of the pig and rat. Z Zellforsch 89:573–589Google Scholar
  6. Björklund A, Falck B, Hromek F, Owman C, West K (1970) Identification and terminal distribution of the tuberohypophyseal monoamine fibre systems in the rat by means of stereotaxic and microspectrofluorometric techniques. Brain Res 17:1–23Google Scholar
  7. Björklund A, Moore RY, Nobin A, Stenevi U (1973) The organization of tubero-hypophyseal and reticulo-infundibular catecholamine neuron systems in the rat brain. Brain Res 51:171–191Google Scholar
  8. Calas A (1985) Morphological correlates of chemically specified neuronal interactions in the hypothalamo-hypophyseal area. Neurochem Int 7:927–940Google Scholar
  9. Chrétien M, Boileau G, Lazure C, Seidah NG (1984) Processing of peptide hormone and neuropeptide precursors. In: Cantin M (ed) Cell biology of the secretory process. S. Karger, Basel New York, pp 214–246Google Scholar
  10. Clivelli O, Douglass J, Herbert E (1984) Pro-opiomelanocortin: A polyprotein at the interface of the endocrine and nervous systems. In: Gross E (ed) The peptides, vol 6. Academic Press, New York, pp 69–94Google Scholar
  11. Cote TE, Eskay RL, Frey EA, Grewe CW, Munemura M, Stoof JC, Tsuruta K, Kebabian JW (1982) Biochemical and physiological studies of the beta-adrenoreceptor and the D-2 dopamine receptor in the intermediate lobe of the rat pituitary gland: A review. Neuroendocrinology 35:217–224Google Scholar
  12. Cross BA, Dyball REJ (1974) Central pathways for neurohypophysial hormone release. In: Greep RO, Astwood EB (eds) Handbook of physiology, Sect 7, vol. IV: The pituitary gland and its neuroendocrine control, part I. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, pp 269–285Google Scholar
  13. Dahlström A, Fuxe K (1966) Monoamines and the pituitary gland. Acta Endocrinol 51:301–314Google Scholar
  14. Davis MD, Lichtensteiger W, Schlumpf, M, Bruinink A (1984) Early postnatal development of pituitary intermediate lobe control in the rat by dopamine neurons. Neuroendocrinology 39:1–12Google Scholar
  15. Friedman E, Krieger DT, Mezey E, Léránth CS, Brownstein MJ, Palkovits M (1983) Serotonergic innervation of the rat pituitary intermediate lobe: Decrease after stalk section. Endocrinology 112:1943–1947Google Scholar
  16. Fuxe K (1964) Cellular localization of monoamines in the infundibular stem of some mammals. Z Zellforsch 61:710–724Google Scholar
  17. Holzbauer M, Racké K (1985) The dopaminergic innervation of the intermediate lobe and of the neural lobe of the pituitary gland. Med Biol 63:97–116Google Scholar
  18. Holzbauer M, Sharman DF, Godden U (1978) Observations on the function of the dopaminergic nerves innervating the pituitary gland. Neurosci 3:1251–1262Google Scholar
  19. Holzbauer M, Muscholl E, Racké K, Sharman DF (1983) Evidence that dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the neurointermediate lobe of the hypophysis. Progr Brain Res 60:357–364Google Scholar
  20. Joh TH, Goldstein M (1973) Isolation and characterization of multiple forms of phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase. Mol Pharmacol 9:117–129Google Scholar
  21. Joh TH, Ross E (1983) Preparation of catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes as immunogens for immunohistochemistry. In: Cuello AC (ed) Immunohistochemistry. John Wiley, New York, pp 121–138Google Scholar
  22. Joh TH, Geghman C, Reis D (1973) Immunochemical demonstration of increased accumulation of tyrosine hydroxylase protein in sympathetic ganglia and adrenal medulla elicited by reserpine. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 70:2767–2771Google Scholar
  23. Mezey É, Léránth C, Brownstein MJ, Friedman E, Krieger DT, Palkovits M (1984) On the origin of the serotonergic input to the intermediate lobe of the rat pituitary. Brain Res 294:231–237Google Scholar
  24. Park DH, Baetge E, Kaplan BB, Albert VR, Reis DJ, Joh TH (1982) Different forms of adrenal phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase: Species-specific posttranslational modification. J Neurochem 38:410–414Google Scholar
  25. Partanen S (1978) Carbonyl compound induced fluorescence of biogenic monoamines in the endocrine cells of the hypophysis. Progr Histochem Cytochem 10:1–47Google Scholar
  26. Payette RF, Gershon MD, Nunez EA (1985) Serotonergic elements of the mammalian pituitary. Endocrinology 116:1933–1942Google Scholar
  27. Pittman QJ, Lawrence D, Lederis K (1983) Presynaptic interactions in the neurohypophysis: Endogenous modulators of release. Progr Brain Res 60:319–332Google Scholar
  28. Ross RA, Joh TH, Reis DJ (1978) Increase in the relative rate of synthesis of dopamine-β-hydroxylase in the nucleus locus coeruleus elicited by reserpine. J Neurochem 31:1491–1500Google Scholar
  29. Ross CA, Ruggiero DA, Meeley MP, Park DH, Joh TH, Reis DJ (1984) A new group of neurons in hypothalamus containing phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) but not tyrosine hydroxylase. Brain Res 306:349–353Google Scholar
  30. Saavedra JM (1985) Central and peripheral catecholamine innervation of the rat intermediate and posterior pituitary lobes. Neuroendocrinology 40:281–284Google Scholar
  31. Saavedra JM, Palkovits M, Kizer JS, Brownstein M, Zivin JA (1975) Distribution of biogenic amines and related enzymes in the rat pituitary gland. J Neurochem 25:257–260Google Scholar
  32. Tilders FJH, Smelik PG (1977) Direct neural control of MSH secretion in mammals: The involvement of dopaminergic tuberohypophysial neurones. Front Horm Res 4:80–93Google Scholar
  33. Tilders FJH, Berkenbosch F, Smelik PG (1985) Control of secretion of peptides related to adrenocorticotropin, melanocyte-stimulating hormone and endorphin. Front Horm Res 14:161–196Google Scholar
  34. Westlund KN, Childs GV (1982) Localization of serotonin fibers in the rat adenohypophysis. Endocrinology 111:1761–1763Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Bäck
    • 1
  • S. Soinila
    • 1
  • T. H. Joh
    • 2
  • L. Rechardt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Laboratory of Molecular NeurobiologyCornell University Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations