• Zucker fatty;
  • anterior pituitary gland;
  • folliculo-stellate cell;
  • gap junction;
  • rat


We investigated the effect of leptin on the postnatal development of gap junctions between folliculo-stellate cells by using Zucker fatty (fa/fa) rats that have defects of the functional leptin receptor. Male Zucker fatty rats (fa/fa) and male Zucker lean rats (+/+) were used at each of the following postnatal ages: 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 days, and 1 year. On one of the aforementioned dates, the anterior pituitary glands were prepared for observation by transmission electron microscopy. We quantified the number of follicles and gap junctions, and calculated the rate of occurrence as the ratio of the number of gap junctions existing between folliculo-stellate cells per intersected follicular profile. In Zucker lean male rats, the number of gap junctions remained relatively constant from days 50 to 90 (0.44 ± 0.02 to 0.49 ± 0.03), and was similar in 1 year old rats (0.47 ± 0.03). These data were statistically higher compared to Zucker fatty male rats. In Zucker fatty male rats, very few gap junctions were observed in 30-day-old rats (0.04 ± 0.01: mean ± SE). This disruption of gap junction formation persisted, and the number of gap junctions remained constant and showed a low level from days 40 to 90 (0.11 ± 0.02 to 0.17 ± 0.02); this finding was similar in 1-year-old rats (0.17 ± 0.02). These observations indicate that the effect of leptin over the gap junction formation within the anterior pituitary glands was directly mediated by interaction with the functional leptin receptor present on the folliculo-stellate cells. Microsc. Res. Tech. 77:31–36, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.