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J Endocrinol. 2010 Feb;204(2):115-23. doi: 10.1677/JOE-09-0333. Epub 2009 Nov 9.

Living-cell imaging of transgenic rat anterior pituitary cells in primary culture reveals novel characteristics of folliculo-stellate cells.

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Division of Histology and Cell Biology, Department of Anatomy, Jichi Medical University School of Medicine, Shimotsuke, Tochigi 329-0498, Japan.


Folliculo-stellate (FS) cells in the anterior pituitary gland appear to possess multifunctional properties. Recently, the development of transgenic rats (S100b-green fluorescent protein (GFP) rats) that express GFP specifically in FS cells in the anterior pituitary gland has allowed us to distinguish and observe living FS cells in other kinds of pituitary cells. We used S100b-GFP rats to investigate the topographic affinity of FS cells for other pituitary cells. We observed living FS cells in enzymatically dispersed anterior pituitary cells of S100b-GFP rats under a fluorescent microscope, and noted that FS cells markedly extended and contracted cytoplasmic processes and formed interconnections with neighboring FS cells. In addition, FS cells adhered to small clusters of GFP-negative cells, which were primarily hormone-producing cells, and these clusters further aggregated during the course of cytoplasmic contraction. In the presence of laminin, fibronectin, and varying types of collagen, FS cells showed marked changes in shape and specific proliferative activity; however, GFP-negative cells did not. On reverse transcription-PCR analysis and immunohistochemistry, FS cells were shown to express integrin subunits, which are the cell surface receptors for extracellular matrix (ECM). In the anterior pituitary gland, FS cells and the various types of hormone-producing cells generate a unique topography in the presence of basement membrane components and interstitial collagens. The novel characteristics of FS cells observed in the present study suggest that in the anterior pituitary gland, FS cells play important roles in determining and/or maintaining local cellular arrangement in the presence of ECM components.

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