Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The origin of pituitary cysts in the rostral pars distalis of the nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius L.

  • 26 Accesses

  • 11 Citations


Pituitary cysts in the nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius L., develop next to blood vessels passing through the prolactin zone of the rostral pars distalis to the connective tissue capsule at its periphery. Cysts were most frequent when pituitaries were large compared with body lengths. However, the incidence of cysts could not be closely related to body length alone. As the rostral pars distalis is more highly vascularised in fish with large pituitaries, and as there was no evidence of accumulating secretion around these blood vessels, it is suggested that cysts develop when vascular demands (or supplies) become excessive. Associated with the greater vascularity of the rostral pars distalis in large pituitaries was a remarkable development of non-granulated cells. Indeed cysts may originate as enlarged intercellular spaces between such cells, as the latter often surround blood vessels. The non-granulated cells are also important in enlarging cyst cavities (by phagocytosing prolactin-cell debris) and perhaps for maintaining their structural integrity. It is suggested that the macrophages within cyst cavities are derived from the non-granulated cells.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Abraham M (1971) The ultrastructure of the cell types and of the neurosecretory innervation in the pituitary of Mugil cephalus L. from fresh water, the sea, and a hypersaline lagoon. Gen Comp Endocrinol 17:334–350

  2. Bage G, Fernholm B (1975) Ultrastructure of the pro-adenohypophysis of the river lamprey, Lampetra fluviatilis, during gonad maturation. Acta Zool (Stockh) 56:95–118

  3. Benjamin M (1974) Seasonal changes in the prolactin cell of the pituitary gland of the freshwater stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, form leiurus. Cell Tissue Res 152:93–102

  4. Benjamin M (1978) Cytological changes in prolactin, ACTH, and growth hormone cells of the pituitary gland of Pungitius pungitius L. in response to increased environmental salinities. Gen Comp Endocrinol 36:48–58

  5. Benjamin M (1979) Comparative ultrastructural studies on the prolactin cells in the pituitary of nine-spined sticklebacks, Pungitius pungitius L., with and without adenohypophyseal cysts. Zoomorphologie 93:125–135

  6. Benjamin M (1980) Factors associated with the seasonal variation in the incidence of pituitary cysts in nine-spined sticklebacks, Pungitius pungitius L. Acta Zool (Stockh) (In Press)

  7. Benjamin M, Williams JG (1979a) Pituitary cysts in the nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius L. I. Seasonal changes and salinity transfer experiments. Acta Zool (Stockh) 60:233–240

  8. Benjamin M, Williams JG (1979b) Pituitary cysts in the nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius L. II. Light and electron microscopy. Acta Zool (Stockh) 60:241–250

  9. Bhattacharjee DK, Chatterjee P, Holmes RL (1980) Follicles and related structures in the pars intermedia of the adenohypophysis of the jird (Meriones unguiculatus). J Anat (Lond.) 130:63–67

  10. Booth KK, Ghoshal NG (1978) Atypical thyroid follicles arising from an ultimobranchial-like cyst in a postnatal canine thyroid gland. Acta Anat 102:405–410

  11. Cardell RR (1969) The ultrastructure of stellate cells in the pars distalis of the salamander pituitary gland. Am J Anat 126:429–456

  12. Christov K, Bollmann R, Thomas C (1973) Ultimobranchial follicles and cysts in the rat thyroid during postnatal development. Beitr Path 149:47–59

  13. Cook H, Rusthoven JJ, Vogelzang NJ (1973) The rostral pars distalis of the pituitary gland of the freshwater and marine alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). A light and electron microscope study. Z Zellforsch 141:145–159

  14. Dingemans KP, Feltkamp CA (1972) Non-granulated cells in the mouse adenohypophysis. Z Zellforsch 124:387–405

  15. Falkmer S, Emdin S, Havu N, Lundgren G, Marques M, Ostberg Y, Steiner DF, Thomas NW (1973) Insulin in invertebrates and cyclostomes. Am Zool 13:625–638

  16. Farquhar MG, Skutelsky EH, Hopkins CR (1975) Structure and function of the anterior pituitary and dispersed cells. In vitro studies. In: Tixier-Vidal A, Farquhar MG (eds) The anterior pituitary. Academic Press New York, p 83–137

  17. Fernholm B (1972) The ultrastructure of the adenohypophysis of Myxine glutinosa. Z Zellforsch 132:451–472

  18. Hatakeyama S, Tuchweber B, Blascheck JA, Garg BD, Kovacs K (1970) Parathyroid cyst formation induced by dihydrotachysterol and calcium acetate. An electron microscopic study. Endocrinol Jpn 17:355–363

  19. Hooker WM, McMillan PJ, Thaete LG (1979) Ultimobranchial gland of the trout (Salmo gairdneri) II. Fine structure. Gen Comp Endocrinol 38:275–284

  20. Horvath E, Kovacs K, Penz G, Ezrin C (1974) Origin, possible function and fate of “follicular cells” in the anterior lobe of the human pituitary. Am J Path 77:199–212

  21. Leatherland JF (1970) Seasonal variation in the structure and ultrastructure of the pituitary of the marine form (Trachurus) of the threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus L. 1. Rostral pars distalis. Z Zellforsch 104:301–317

  22. Leatherland JF, Percy R (1976) Structure of the nongranulated cells in the hypophyseal rostral pars distalis of cyclostomes and actinopterygians. Cell Tissue Res 166:185–200

  23. Rawdon BB (1978) Ultrastructure of the non-granulated hypophysial cells in the teleost Pseudocrenilabrus philander (Hemihaplochromis philander) with particular reference to cytological changes in culture. Acta Zool (Stockh) 59:25–33

  24. Schechter J (1969) The ultrastructure of the stellate cell in the rabbit pars distalis. Am J Anat 126:477–487

  25. Schreibman MP (1966) Hypophysial cysts in a teleost fish. J Exp Zool 162:57–68

  26. Schultz HJ, Patzner RA, Adam H (1979) Fine structure of the agranular adenohypophysial cells in the hagfish, Myxine glutinosa (Cyclostomata). Cell Tissue Res 204:67–75

  27. Selye H, Ortega MR, Tuchweber B (1964) Experimental production of parathyroid cysts. Am J Path 45:251–256

  28. Swarup K, Srivastav AK, Tewari NP (1978) Occurrence of calcitonin cells and cysts in the parathyroid of the house shrew, Suncus murinus. Acta Anat 101:340–345

  29. Thomas NW, Ostberg Y, Falkmer S (1978) Cell degeneration and cavity formation in the endocrine pancreas of the hagfish Myxine glutinosa. Acta Zool (Stockh) 59:119–123

  30. Vanha-Perttula T, Arstila AU (1970) On the epithelium of the rat pituitary residual lumen. Z Zellforsch 108:487–500

  31. Walter JB, Israel MS (1979) General Pathology. 5th edition. Churchill, Livingstone London New York

  32. Weibel ER (1969) Stereological principles for morphometry in electron microscopic cytology. Int Rev Cytol 26:235–302

  33. Zelander T, Kirkeby S (1977) Fine structure of the ultimobranchial cysts in the thyroid of the adult guinea pig. Cell Tissue Res 183:343–351

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Dr. Michael Benjamin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Benjamin, M. The origin of pituitary cysts in the rostral pars distalis of the nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius L.. Cell Tissue Res. 214, 417–430 (1981).

Download citation

Key words

  • Pituitary
  • Cyst
  • Prolactin cell
  • Non-granulated cell
  • Blood vessels