The functional significance of the pars tuberalis (PT) of the mammalian adenohypophysis has remained an enigma (1, 2). One view of its function is that it acts as an auxiliary gland to support the endocrine role of the pars distalis (PD) (2), as it has been shown to contain immunocytochemically identifiable thyrotrophs and gonadotrophs (1). Many of the cells of the PT are, however, ultrastructurally unique suggesting an independent function for this tissue. Our recent demonstration that the PT of the rat is a major binding site for the ligand iodomelatonin lends further support to this idea (3). We have utilized the highly specific ligand [125l]melatonin, and have demonstrated that it binds exclusively, with very high affinity, to the PT but not the PD of the adult sheep adenohypophysis. These findings support the conclusion that the PT has a distinct role in relation to melatonin action and seasonal reproduction.
- melatonin receptors
- pars tuberalis
- autoradiographical localization