Immunohistochemical characterization of chicken pituitary cells containing the vasotocin VT2 receptor.
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Research in mammals has demonstrated a variety of regulatory effects of vasopressin and oxytocin on endocrine functions of the anterior pituitary gland. Less evidence is available regarding the hypophysiotropic action of arginine vasotocin (AVT) comprising vasopressic and oxytocic activities in birds. Some hypophysiotropic effects of AVT may result from its interactions with brain circuits controlling pituitary functions, whereas others are caused by its direct affect on pituitary cells. Use of an antiserum to the vasotocin receptor VT2 (VT2R) has revealed numerous immunoreactive cells in the anterior pituitary gland of the chicken. The objective of the present study has been to identify endocrine phenotypes of chicken pituitary cells containing VT2R by means of immunohistochemical labeling. VT2R immunoreactivity has been found in all cells immunoreactive for adrenocorticotropin and alpha-melanotropin. Approximately 10% of labeled lactotropes are also immunoreactive for VT2R and lie around the anatomical boundary dividing the cephalic and caudal lobes. In both corticotropes/melanotropes and lactotropes, immunoreactive VT2R is present in a narrow layer outlining cell bodies. Immunoreactive VT2R is not found in gonadotropes, thyrotropes, or somatotropes. These results provide evidence for the important role of VT2Rs in mediating effects of AVT on endocrine secretion from corticotropes and, partially, from lactotropes.