Molecular Studies of Pituitary Gland Differentiation

  • John E. Pintar
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 181)


All hormone-synthesizing cells in the pituitary gland appear to differentiate from an initially homogeneous epithelium called Rathke’s pouch, which forms as an invagination of the oral ectoderm (Levy et al., 1980). Both the anterior and intermediate lobes of the pituitary are derived from this structure, which, separates from the oral ectoderm during early embryogenesis. The separation occurs after Rathke’s pouch has contacted a ventral outpocketing of the neural tube, the infundibulum, which later becomes the posterior pituitary. The anterior wall of Rathke’s pouch then proliferates rapidly and becomes the anterior pituitary, which contains at least six different cell types synthesizing different peptide hormones; cells producing proopiomelanocortin (POMC) account for about 5% of the cells in the adult anterior lobe. The posterior wall of Rathke’s pouch differentiates into the intermediate lobe which contains only cells synthesizing POMC; however, these POMC-containing cells differ from anterior lobe POMC cells in that they process this prohormone to different end-product hormones (see below).


Pituitary Gland Anterior Lobe Intermediate Lobe POMC mRNA Oral Ectoderm 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Pintar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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