• anterior pituitary;
  • connexin;
  • folliculo-stellate cell;
  • gap junction


Folliculo-stellate (FS) cells in the anterior pituitary gland have been speculated to possess multifunctional properties. Because gap junctions (GJ) have been identified between FS cells, FS cells may be interconnected electrophysiologically by GJ and serve as signal transmission networks to modulate hormone release in the anterior pituitary gland. But whether GJ are localized among FS cells from the pars tuberalis through the pars distalis is unclear. The S100b-GFP transgenic rat has recently been generated, which expresses green fluorescent protein (GFP) specifically in FS cells in the anterior pituitary. This model is expected to be a powerful tool for studies of FS cells. The purpose of the present paper was therefore to examine the localization of GJ on connexin 43 immunohistochemistry throughout the anterior pituitary gland of S100b-GFP rats under confocal laser microscopy. The localization patterns of FS cells was also observed in primary culture of anterior pituitary cells and the question of whether GJ between FS cells are reconstructed in vitro was investigated. In vivo studies showed that GJ were present specifically between FS cells from the pars tuberalis to the pars distalis in the anterior pituitary gland. The appearance of FS cells was distinguished into two types, with localization of GJ differing between types. In vitro, it was observed for the first time that FS cells in primary culture could be categorized into two types. In vivo localization of GJ between FS cells was reconstructed in vitro. These morphological observations are consistent with the hypothesis that FS cells form an electrophysiological network throughout the anterior pituitary for signal transmission.