2017 年 50 巻 2 号 p. 63-69
After publication of reports describing the presence of stem/progenitor cells among non-hormone-producing cells in the pituitary, the mechanism responsible for proliferation and differentiation generated considerable interest. Several studies have suggested that Notch signaling is involved. In the present study, we examined the histochemical relationship between Notch signaling molecules and the transcription factor SOX2 in rat pituitary. Combined in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry showed that Notch2 mRNA and SOX2 were co-expressed at embryonic day 14.5 in most cells in the adenohypophyseal primordium. In adult rat pituitary, double immunohistochemistry showed that SOX2 and either Notch2 or the Notch signaling target HES1 were co-localized within cells with large oval nuclei in both the marginal cell layer and cell aggregates in the main part of the anterior lobe, which are believed to be stem cell niches. Furthermore, when the Notch signaling inhibitor DAPT was added to a primary culture of adult rat anterior pituitary cells, the proportion of SOX2-expressing cells within Notch2-positive cells was approximately 30% lower. These findings suggest that Notch signaling has a role in maintaining the stemness of precursor cells in the adult rat pituitary gland.