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Adult Pituitary Stem Cells

Existence of tissue-specific stem cells is documented in a growing number of organs by their molecular expression profile and their potential for self-renewal, multipotent differentiation and tissue regeneration. Whether or not the adult pituitary gland also contains a pool of stem cells that drive homeostatic, plastic, and regenerative cell ontogenesis remains unknown. However, adult pituitary has a remarkable ability to adapt the number of each of its cell types in response to changing physiologic demands. For example, the number of somatotropes doubles during puberty, whereas the number of lactotropes expands several-fold during pregnancy, lactation, and weaning.[199] Nevertheless, it is not clear if those changes in numbers of differentiated cells are the result of maturation of uncommitted cells, transdifferentiation of other cell types, mitotic divisions of differentiated cells, or any combination of these mechanisms.

Several different cell types, including …