Polypteriform fish constitutes the most primitive living descendent of the ancient bony fish. In polypteriform fish, only proopiomelanocortin (POMC) has been identified so far in the adenohypophysis, which is surprising in view of their evolutionary importance. In the present study, distribution of immunore-active adenohypophysial hormones was examined in juvenile individuals of Polypterus endlicheri. Antisera to tetrapod and fish adenohypophysial hormones were used as immunostaining probes. Adrenocorticotropin (ACTH)-like cells were detected by antisera to salmon POMC N-terminal peptide, porcine ACTH and mammalian α-melanotropin (MSH), and were distributed in the rostral pars distalis in close proximity to the hypophysial duct. MSH-like cells were found in the pars intermedia, and were stained by anti-salmon N-Ac-β-endorphin II as well as anti-mammalian α-MSH and anti-salmon POMC-N terminal peptide. Prolactin (PRL)-like cells were detected only after application of anti-sturgeon PRL, and were distributed in the rostral pars distalis, where PRL-positive material was found in columnar mucinous cells lining the diverticuli of the hypophysial duct. Growth hormone (GH)-like cells were stained with antisera to sturgeon GH, human GH, salmon GH and blue shark GH, and were distributed in the proximal pars distalis. Somatolactin (SL)-like cells were stained with anti-salmon SL, and were distributed in the pars intermedia. Two types of glycoprotein hormone-positive cells were detected in the proximal pars distalis. Although both types of cells were stained with several antisera to glycoprotein hormones, such as sturgeon LHβ and salmon LHβ, it was difficult to know which types of cells produce LH, FSH, or TSH. Thus, the present study revealed seven types of adenohypophysial hormone-like cells in the Polypterus pituitary gland, which may provide the morphological basis for better understanding on evolution of the pituitary gland and the adenohypophysial hormones in vertebrates.
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