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Oxytocin-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the pars intermedia of the pituitary in the rabbit and hare

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The pars intermedia of the pituitary in the rabbit and hare is abundantly innervated by axons reacting selectively with antibodies against oxytocin. These axons contain dense secretory vesicles about 140 nm in diameter, i.e., smaller than those in the neurosecretory axons of the neural lobe. No fiber elements staining for other peptides (vasopressin, somatostatin, substance P) were observed in the pars intermedia, except rare leu-enkephalin axons restricted to the rostral zone of the gland. Dopaminergic innervation appears to be completely absent from the intermediate lobe. This was shown by the lack of reaction with an antibody against tyrosine-hydroxylase, which did reveal a well-developed tubero-infundibular system of nerve fibers. Axons reacting with an antibody against serotonin were irregularly distributed in the pars intermedia.

In the absence of dopaminergic axons, the extensive oxytocin-like innervation may play a major role in regulating the melanotrophic cell activity in the Leporidae.

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Correspondence to Dr. M. E. Stoeckel.

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Schimchowitsch, S., Stoeckel, M.E., Klein, M.J. et al. Oxytocin-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the pars intermedia of the pituitary in the rabbit and hare. Cell Tissue Res. 228, 255–263 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00204877

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Key words

  • Pars intermedia
  • Oxytocin
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Rabbit, hare