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    Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a pivotal role in pituitary endocrine function by influencing fenestration and blood vessel growth. Folliculostellate (FS) cells, which represent only a small number of pituitary cells, are recognized to produce VEGF. Tissue sections and primary pituitary cell cultures from rat pituitary glands were performed to co-localize VEGF and pituitary lactotrophs, which represents nearly 50% of all pituitary cells, by immunofluorescence. VEGF is co-localized with prolactin-producing cells in vivo and in vitro. FS cells are present infrequently in vivo (1.6%) and in vitro (2.4%). Culture supernatants were analyzed for the presence of VEGF by ELISA. VEGF levels are always significantly lower in supernatants from the cells that are seeded on Matrigel extracellular matrix (ECM) compared to the cells grown on plastic. Lower VEGF concentrations in supernatants from the pituitary cells cultured on ECM may reflect a more adequate cell environment compared to culture on plastic. These results demonstrate for the first time, that VEGF is expressed by lactotrophs, which outnumber FS cells. These results are of potential clinical relevance especially in oncology for the interpretation of studies investigating anti‚ÄĎangiogenic treatment of pituitary tumors.


    Joachim Alfer, Joseph Neulen, Andreas Gaumann. Lactotrophs: the new and major source for VEGF secretion and the influence of ECM on rat pituitary function in vitro. Oncology reports. 2015 May;33(5):2129-34

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    PMID: 25778675

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