While immunostaining serial semi-thin sections of acrylic resin-embedded normal human pituitary using antisera to human pituitary hormones, it became clear that several cells were stained by more that one antiserum. The tissue had been surgically excised from a patient with a prolactinoma. The tumor, which was immunoreactive only with antiprolactin antiserum, was distinctly different from the pieces of tissue under study which had normal pituitary architecture and demonstrated immunoreactivity with antisera against all six of the common pituitary hormones. A major immunoelectron microscopic investigation, using immunocolloidal gold and immunoperoxidase methods, revealed cells in which follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and prolactin (PRL) were co-localized to the same electron-dense granules. Some similar cells also possessed electron-lucent granules immunoreactive only for anti-PRL antiserum. Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and PRL were also found in the same cell but were very largely localized to separate, morphologically different populations of electron-dense and -lucent storage granules. By employing double immunolabeling, a few granules in the ACTH/PRL cells were shown to be immunoreactive to both anti-ACTH and anti-PRL antisera. The possibility that the multihormonal cells are syncytial or that they represent multipotential stem cells is discussed.
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