Reassembly of Anterior Pituitary Organization by Hanging Drop Three-Dimensional Cell Culture
Semi-thin sections of three-dimensional reaggregates from adult female rat pituitary, cultured in serum-free defined medium, were stained for prolactin, gonadotropin, thyrotropin, growth hormone and S-100, using the double immunolabelling technique. The frequency of juxtaposition between lactotrophs and gonadotrophs was enumerated and compared with the expected frequency at random distribution of polygonal cell profiles in a hexagonal configuration. The proportions of lactotrophs and gonadotrophs in the aggregate sections were determined using stereometrical analysis. The observed frequency of juxtaposition did not differ significantly from the expected frequency. Hence, no reason was found to assume a selective adhesion between lactotrophs and gonadotrophs in adult female rat pituitary reaggregates. A constant proportion of lactotrophs was found to meet the criteria of a cup-shaped morphology, and 70%±9% (mean ±S.D.) of these so-called cupshaped lactotrophs were found to be juxtaposed at their concave side to gonadotrophs. Administration of 0.01 nM 17β-oestradiol to the culture medium resulted in a significant reduction of the proportion of cup-shaped lactotrophs but did not affect the selectivity of juxtaposition to gonadotrophs. The selectivity of juxtaposition between cup-shaped lactotrophs and gonadotrophs may be the morphological correlate of the functional relationship between these cells, which are known to be involved in an intra-pituitary paracrine communication system.