Immunohistochemical distribution of regulatory peptides in the human fetal adenohypophysis

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We have studied here the cellular distribution of several regulatory peptides in hormone-producing cells of the human pituitary during the fetal period. Immunohistochemistry was used to show the expression of several regulatory peptides, namely Angiotensin-II, Neurotensin and Galanin, at successive gestational stages and their co-localization with hormones in the human fetal adenohypophysis. Somatotrophs, gonadotrophs and thyrotrophs were differentiated earliest. At gestational week 9, Angiotensin-II immunoreactivity was co-localized only with growth hormone immunoreactivity in somatotrophs, one of the first hormone-producing cells to differentiate. This co-localization remained until week 37. Neurotensin immunoreactivity was present in gonadotrophs and thyrotrophs in week 23, after FSH and TSH hormone differentiation. Galanin immunoreactivity was present in all hormone-producing cell types except corticotrophs. The different pro-opiomelanocortin-derived peptides were detected at different stages of gestation and adrenocorticotrophic hormone immunoreaction was the last to be detected. Our results show an interesting relationship between regulatory peptides and hormones during human fetal development, which could imply that these peptides play a regulatory role in the development of pituitary function.

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