Immunocytological localization of LH, FSH, TSH and their subunits in the pituitary of normal and anencephalic human fetuses

P. M. Dubois, M. Begeot, M. P. Dubois, D. C. Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Immunostaining with antisera to oLH, hCG, hLH, pLH β, hFSH, hFSH β, hTSH α and bTSH was used to delineate the gonadotropic and thyrotropic cells of the human fetal anterior pituitary. Hypophyses from 29 normal fetuses, 3 newborn infants, and 5 totally ancencephalic fetuses were used. Several controls to check for the specificity of the immunocytological reaction were made. In normal fetuses, observations showed that: 1) the α subunit was detected from the eighth week and throughout gestation without sex differences; 2) intact LH was detected during the third month, however, age and sex differences were observed during the fourth and fifth months; 3) intact FSH was detected in female fetuses from the beginning of the fourth month, a sex difference was observed; 4) LH and FSH were detected in the same cells; 5) the thyrotropic cells were detectable from 15 weeks of gestation and their number increased during gestation without sex difference; 6) at birth the gonadotropic cells were scarce and were located in the ventromedian zone of the anterior pituitary, while the thyrotropic cells remained numerous and were located in the dorsomedian zone. In anencephalic fetuses: 1) the α subunit existed at each stage studied; 2) the reaction induced by anti-pLH β and anti-hFSH β sera was always very weak regardless of sex or age; 3) the thyrotropic cells were more numerous in comparison to the gonadotropic cells. These data are discussed in terms of the relationship of the hypophysiotropic hypothalamic factors to the appearance and evolution of the glycoprotein hormones and their subunits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-265
Number of pages17
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1978
Externally publishedYes


  • Anencephaly
  • Fetal pituitary
  • Human fetus
  • Immunocytology
  • LH, FSH, TSH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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