It has been suggested that pit-1 protein may play a role in the differentiation of the anterior pituitary cells. The present Immunohistochemical studies were designed to elucidate the relationship between functional differentiation of pituitary adenoma and expression of pit-1 protein in human (h) GRF transgenic mice. Pituitaries from a 10 month old and a 6 month old transgenic mice were fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde and embedded in paraffin. The indirect immunoperoxidase method was performed using antibodies against hGRF, GH, PRL, ACTH, α subunit (SU), FSHβ SU, LHβ SU, TSHβ SU, and pit-1 protein. Immunohistochemical double staining was performed at light and electron microscopic levels. The pituitary glands of hGRF transgenic mice (both 10 month and 6 month old) demonstrated diffuse hyperplasia of GH positive cells with coexpression of hGRF within the same cells. There were also scattered cells which were positive for other hormones and hormone subunits in the hyperplastic pituitary. Three discrete nodules were found in the pituitary gland of a 10 month old hGRF transgenic mouse and were identified as adenomas. These adenomas were composed of enlarged round cells which were positive only for GH, hGRF, PRL and TSHβ SU. Pit-1 protein was intensely expressed in the nuclei of the adenoma cells. These results suggest the existence of an autocrine mechanism by hGRF in the formation of somato-lacto-thyrotroph adenoma via constitutive pit-1 expression.
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