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Brain Res Bull. 2001 Apr;54(6):587-93.

The mammalian pituitary intermediate lobe: an update on innervation and regulation.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM 87131-5223, USA.


The pituitary intermediate lobe (IL) in mammals is an area of uniform endocrine cells which synthesize and release specific peptide products of the proopiomelanocortin gene. The lobe receives direct synaptic connections onto the endocrine cells from hypothalamic dopaminergic neurons. This review updates information on the dopaminergic as well as the gamma-aminobutyric acid inhibitory neuroregulation for the IL. It also provides a discussion of stimulatory molecules which are likely to affect peptide release, particularly the neurotransmitter serotonin, which may be present via uptake into the dopaminergic nerve terminals. Other stimulatory molecules discussed which are likely to significantly affect peptide secretion are norepinephrine, corticotropin-releasing factor, and several opiate peptides. A new direction of study involves the potential interaction of neurotrophic factors, which are present in all areas of the pituitary, and may be suggested to have a supportive role for the neural elements of the IL. The endocrine cells of the IL and their direct hypothalamic innervation are considered to be an easily accessed peripheral model for study of both neural-endocrine and neurotrophic-target cell interactions.

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