The Role of Cell-Cell Communication in Neuropeptide-Stimulated and Dopamine-Inhibited Prolactin Release

  • Carl Denef
  • Myriam Baes
  • Carla Schramme
  • Luc Swennen
Part of the Biochemical Endocrinology book series (BIOEND)


The anterior pituitary is composed of different cell types producing different protein or peptide hormones. Although at first look these different cells are scattered throughout the gland, a more careful examination clearly shows that the topographical arrangement of the different cells is not random (1). Certain cell types are more abundant in certain areas than in others. Moreover, one cell type may display a selective topographical affinity for another. More than 10 years ago Nakane mentioned in his paper on immunocytochemical studies of the anterior pituitary cell types of the adult male rat that gonadotrophs and lactotrophs are frequently found in close association with each other (2). Many of these lactotrophsare cup-shaped, embracing and sometimes completely surrounding a gonadotroph. It has also been mentioned that gonadotrophs may have some affinity for somatotrophs (3). Nakane as well as others also found that corticotrophs (2,4,5) and thyrotrophs (6) are in close juxtaposition with somatotrophs. Horvath et c... (7) reported that gonadotrophs and lactotrophs form between each other specialized junctional complexes of the “macula adhaerens diminuta” type, described by Overton (8). The length of attachment of these adherence junctions varies between 50 and 300 nm, the intercellular gap measuring approximately 150 R. It has also been demonstrated that not all lactotrophs have affinity for a gonadotroph. Nogami and Yoshimura distinguished 4 morphologically distinct subtypes in adult male rat pituitary (9) : 1) oval or polygonal cells with only small spherical granules (130–200 nm diam.); 2) oval or polygonal cells with medium-sized spherical and polymorphic granules (250–300 nm); 3) polygonal cells with only large polymorphic granules (300–700 nm diam.) in the cytoplasm and small granules in the Golgi region; 4) cup-shaped cells with usually spherical (300 nm diam.) and a few polymorphic granules (300–700 nm diam.). Type 3 is the commonly accepted lactotroph in the female rat but it is not predominant in the male. The most frequently found lactotrophs in the male are the type 2 and the cup-shaped cells and these are the cells which have a special affinity for gonadotrophs (9,10). According to Sato (10) polygonal cells appear to gather around an enlarged gonadotroph and extend cytoplasmic processes to the gonadotroph to envelop it. The latter are the cup-shaped cells and some of them can completely surround a gonadotroph. cup-shaped cells, while intermingled with oval and polygonal cells, accumulate in the marginal layer of the gland, particularly in the vicinity of the sex zone (10), in which there is a high proportional number of gonadotrophs (2). However, these different cell types are also found to be scattered throughout the gland and sometimes in clusters (9,10).


Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide Pituitary Cell Thyrotropin Release Hormone Polygonal Cell Prolactin Release 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Denef
    • 1
  • Myriam Baes
    • 1
  • Carla Schramme
    • 1
  • Luc Swennen
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cell Pharmacology School of MedicineUniversity of Leuven Campus GasthuisbergLeuvenBelgium

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