Hormones produced by the anterior pituitary gland regulate an array of important physiological functions, but pituitary hormone disorders are not fully understood. Herein we report that genetically-engineered mice with deletion of the hedgehog signaling receptor Patched1 by S100a4 promoter-driven Cre recombinase (S100a4-Cre;Ptch1fl/fl mutants) exhibit adult-onset hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and multiple pituitary hormone disorders. During the transition from puberty to adult, S100a4-Cre;Ptch1fl/fl mice of both sexes develop hypogonadism coupled with reduced gonadotropin levels. Their pituitary glands also display severe structural and functional abnormalities, as revealed by transmission electron microscopy and expression of key genes regulating pituitary endocrine functions. S100a4-Cre activity in the anterior pituitary gland is restricted to CD45+ cells of hematopoietic origin, including folliculo-stellate cells and other immune cell types, causing sex-specific changes in the expression of genes regulating the local microenvironment of the anterior pituitary. These findings provide in vivo evidence for the importance of pituitary hematopoietic cells in regulating fertility and endocrine function, in particular during sexual maturation and likely through sexually dimorphic mechanisms. These findings support a previously unrecognized role of hematopoietic cells in causing hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and provide inroads into the molecular and cellular basis for pituitary hormone disorders in humans.
Endocrinology, Reproductive Biology, Signal transduction