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J Craniofac Genet Dev Biol. 1995 Oct-Dec;15(4):222-9.

Human fetal pituitary gland in holoprosencephaly and anencephaly.

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Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The normal prenatal development of the human pituitary gland and the gland-supporting sella turcica has recently been investigated. The sella turcica area constitutes a developmental boundary area in the cranial base. Posterior to the area the cranial base has developed close to the notochord, and anterior to the region the cranial base development is dependent chiefly on neural crest cell migrations. In the present study the sella turcica region was analyzed in two fetuses with holoprosencephaly (cyclopia and median cleft) and four fetuses with anencephaly combined with rachischisis in the neck region (GA 16-20 weeks). The sella turcica region was investigated radiologically and histologically. Adenohypohyseal gland tissue was localized by immunohistochemical hormonal marking. In both types of malformation an open craniopharyngeal canal was seen in the base of the sella turcica with adenohypophyseal glandular tissue located in the sella turcica, in the canal, and in the pharyngeal connective tissue at the external side of the cranial base. In conclusion, severe malformations of the pituitary gland occur in both holoprosencephaly, which is a polytopic field defect located anterior to the sella turcica, and in anencephaly associated with notochordal insufficiency posterior to the sella turcica. This might indicate that the sella turcica area, bounding different developmental fields, is involved in various craniofacial malformations. It is consequently recommended that examination of the pituitary gland should become a part of the routine autopsy of prenatal material when malformations in the face, brain, and cranial base occur.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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