Heterogeneity of Pituitary Gonadotrope Cells in Male Rats





Mammalian gonadotrope (Gn-) cells producing FSH and LH show great variability in their cytological characteristics. To gain a closer view of the corresponding phenotypes, Gn-cells of male rats were investigated by various methods including immunocytochemistry on serial semithin sections, quantitative immunocytochemistry, three-dimensional reconstructions, sequential semithin-/thin-section technique, routine electron microscopy, and immuno-electron microscopy. Gn-cells were immunostained with FSH and LH antisera and with antibodies raised against synthetic N- and C-terminal sequences of chromogranin A (CgA) and secretogranin II (SgII), and four phenotypes of Gn-cells could be identified. The great majority of Gn-cells were densely immunoreactive for both gonadotropins and both chromogranins and accordingly classified as "typical" gonadotropes; a second type was less immunoreactive for LH and therefore was termed "LH-poor". The two remaining phenotypes showed ultrastructures suggesting an increased synthetic activity. One of them was characterized as a "FSH/CgA-poor" gonadotrope. The other, also poor in CgA, morphologically corresponded to "signet-ring" cells previously known only in gonadectomized animals. The two types of secretory granules present in male rat Gn-cells showed a strict segregation of chromogranin immunoreactivities: CgA was confined to the large, less opaque granules, whereas SgII, to the small, electron-dense granules. Consequently the two "CgA-poor" Gn-cell subtypes exhibited only a very few large-sized secretory granules. A correlation was suggested between high cellular activity and a decrease in CgA in Gn-cells. The reasons for the morphological and functional heterogeneity of Gn-cells remain enigmatic. Presumably, they either differ in the susceptibility for GnRH and testosterone or are differently regulated by paracrine factors.


  • Archives of histology and cytology

    Archives of histology and cytology 60(4), 355-370, 1997-10-01

    International Society of Histology and Cytology

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