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Ultrastructural localization of immuno reactive corticotropin beta lipotropin alpha endorphin and beta endorphin in cells of the human fetal anterior pituitary



Ultrastructural localization of immuno reactive corticotropin beta lipotropin alpha endorphin and beta endorphin in cells of the human fetal anterior pituitary



Cell & Tissue Research 204(1): 37-52



Cells immunoreactive with anti-.alpha.-(17-39) ACTH, .beta.-(1-24) ACTH, .beta.-LPH [lipotropin], .alpha.- and .beta.-EP [endorphin] were identified in the human fetal anterior pituitary at the ultrastructural level using the peroxidase-antiperoxidase complex method on ultrathin sections. Only 1 definite cell type was revealed by all these antisera. All granules of each individual immunostained cell reacted regardless of the antiserum used. The immunostained cells occurred in groups and were sometimes located in the wall of the follicle-like structures commonly observed in the fetal anterior pituitary. The cells revealed 2 main aspects: the largest elements were rich in organelles and their numerous secretory granules showed significant variations in size (250-500 nm in diameter), electron density of their content and stain-deposit intensity. The ergastoplasm, consisting of irregular tubules, was poorly developed. In the vicinity of the conspicuous Golgi apparatus, organelles related to the GERL [Golgi-endoplasmic-reticulum-lysosome system] complex were commonly observed. Multivescular bodies were frequent. Some of these cells showed bundles of microfilaments (60 nm in thickness). The smaller cells had an electron-lucent hyaloplasm with sparse organelles; they contained fewer granules and never showed microfilaments. The immunocytological results are consistent with the synthesis of a molecule similar to pro-opiocortin by this type of endocrine cell in human fetuses. Morphological evidence for the maturation process of this precursor and for the secretory activity of these cells and its possible regulation is presented and discussed.

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