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Abstract

Two immunocytochemical methods, immunoperoxidase and immunogold (IG), were used in an attempt to study the dynamic process of prolactin release from stimulated rat pituitary mammotrophs. The immunogold method was also used to localize other pituitary hormones including growth hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and the neuropeptides substance P, neuropeptide tyrosine, leu-enkephalin, and atrial natriuretic factor in peripheral nerves. Light-microscopic immunoperoxidase staining of prolactin revealed a unique distribution of immunoreactive mammotrophs. Two groups of cells were seen, one centrally located and one forming a narrow peripheral rim on the gland. The two groups were separated by a zone of nonimmunoreactive cells. In addition, the distribution of immunoper-oxidase-stained material was not uniform in all mammotrophs. In some, prolactin immunoreactive material was clumped near the nucleus (in the Golgi cisternae); in others it was more diffused within the cytoplasm (but immediately surrounding the cisternae of rough endoplasmic reticulum). After stimulation of mammotrophs, via suckling, prolactin-immunoreactive material was visualized in extracellular spaces. With immunogold methods, prolactin labelling was seen mainly in secretory granules; but some labelling of Golgi cisternae and rough endoplasmic reticulum also occurred. Immunogold labelling revealed that material immunoreactive for leu-enkephalin and atrial natriuretic factor was present in nerve terminals in the rat paracervical ganglion. Material immunoreactive for substance P and neuropeptide tyrosine was present in nerve terminals in the guinea pig heart. Thus, in some situations the immunoperoxidase technique was useful and helped to visualize “grossly” the presence of specific antigens, but it was inadequate for fine ultrastructural localization of these antigens. The immunogold technique was excellent for precise localization of antigens and especially for the detection of colocalization of different antigens. This method can be used in very different structures, such as the adenohypophysis and peripheral nervous tissue, without any modification except for the nature of the antibodies.