Immunohistochemical evidence that follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone reside in separate cells in the chicken pituitary.
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As is the case in other tetrapod species, the chicken gonadotropins LH and FSH consist of a common alpha subunit and a hormone-specific beta subunit. Gonadotrophs containing LH were shown earlier to be distributed throughout both the caudal and cephalic lobes of the chicken anterior pituitary, but the cellular distribution of FSH in avian species is still uncertain. The purpose of this study was to determine the cellular distribution of FSH-containing chicken gonadotrophs by use of FSH-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Three new mAbs toward chicken FSH were proven hormone specific by immunodetection of purified hormones on dot blots and by dual-label immunohistochemistry (IHC) on sagittal sections of chicken pituitaries. A rabbit antibody was used to detect chicken LH. Results showed that LH-containing gonadotrophs were densely distributed throughout the anterior pituitary, whereas gonadotrophs containing FSH were much less numerous; in addition, while also present in both lobes, FSH-positive cells were largely absent from the outer margin of the gland. Dual-label IHC revealed that LH and FSH reside almost exclusively in separate gonadotrophs. The identity of FSH-containing cells was further confirmed through use of an antibody to the chicken alpha subunit, which showed that FSH immunoreactivity was always colocalized with the alpha subunit. Our results suggest the possibility that production and secretion of LH and FSH may be regulated differently in chickens than in most other species studied to date.