Independent differentiation of mammotropes and somatotropes in the chicken embryonic pituitary gland. Analysis by cell distribution and attempt to detect somatomammotropes. Academic Article uri icon


  • It has been reported that mammotropes in a rodent pituitary gland are derived from somatotropes via somatomammotropes (SMTs), cells that produce both growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (Prl). However, no studies have been done on the transdifferentiation of somatotropes in the chicken pituitary gland. In this study, in order to determine the origin of mammotropes, we studied detail property of appearance of chicken somatotropes, mammotropes and pit-1 cells and then evaluated the existence of SMTs in the chicken embryonic pituitary gland. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that GH-immunopositive (GH-ip) cells appeared on embryonic day (E) 14 and were mainly distributed in the caudal lobe, while Prl-immunopositive (Prl-ip) cells appeared in the cephalic lobe of the pituitary gland on E16. In situ hybridization (ISH) and RT-PCR analysis showed that expression of GH and Prl mRNA starts at E12 in the caudal lobe and at E14 in the cephalic lobe respectively. Pit-1 mRNA was first detected on E5 by RT-PCR, and pit-1 mRNA-expressing cells were found in the cephalic lobe on E8. Then with the ontogeny of the chicken, these cells spread into both lobes. Using a double staining method with ISH and immunohistochemistry, we could not detect the existence of SMTs in the chicken embryonic pituitary gland even in the marginal region of either lobe. These results suggest that chicken somatotropes and mammotropes independently appear in different lobes of pituitary gland and that transdifferentiation from somatotropes to mammotropes is not the central route for differentiation of mammotropes in the embryonic chicken pituitary gland.

published proceedings

  • Histochem Cell Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Zheng, J., Nakamura, K., Maseki, Y., Geelissen, S., Berghman, L. R., & Sakai, T.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Zheng, Jun||Nakamura, Kazuaki||Maseki, Yoko||Geelissen, Sofie ME||Berghman, Luc R||Sakai, Takafumi

publication date

  • April 2006