Fine structure and development of the pars tuberalis in mammals

  • Marie-Elisabeth Stoeckel
  • Aimé Porte
Part of the Electron Microscopy in Biology and Medicine book series (EMBM, volume 1)


The precise function of the tuberal lobe or pars tuberalis (PT) of the adenohypophysis identified anatomically by Tilney (1) and embryologically by Atwell (2) still poses an enigma (3). This lobe, consist-ing mainly of chromophobic cells in most species, was long considered an undifferentiated rostral extension of the pars distalis (PD). Electron microscopy, however, has revealed that the PT cells, except those lining the follicular cavities, clearly have the characteristics of peptide-producing glandular cells in mammals (4–13) as well as in other classes of vertebrates (3, 13, 17). The chromophobic cells of the rat PT containing small secretory vesicles were at first interpreted as corticotrophs (4, 6). Since typical gonadotrophs cells also proliferate in the PT after hypophysectomy, this lobe was thought to have mainly auxiliary or substitutional function in the case of high PD hormone demand (4, 8). This opinion has been corroborated by immunocytochemical data (18, 19). However, electron-microscope studies on the PT of various mammals under normal and experimental conditions (5, 10–13), and during its ontogenesis in the rat and the mouse (20, 21), and immunocytochemical data (22), indicate that PT glandular cells are in general peculiar to this lobe, i.e. are not found in the other adenohypophyseal lobes. So it seems highly probable that the PT has a specific but as yet undetermined function which should no longer be neglected in hypophyseal physiology.


Follicular Cell Glandular Cell Cell Cord Glycogen Particle Secretory Differentiation 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Boston, The Hague, Dordrecht, Lancaster 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Elisabeth Stoeckel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aimé Porte
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physiologie générale, ULPLA 309 CNRSStrasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.Neuroendocrinologie comparéeStrasbourg CedexFrance

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