The anterior and intermediate lobes of the pituitary are composed of endocrine cells, as well as vasculature and supporting cells, such as folliculostellate cells. Folliculostellate cells form a network with several postulated roles in the pituitary, including production of paracrine signalling molecules and cytokines, coordination of endocrine cell hormone release, phagocytosis, and structural support. Folliculostellate cells in rats are characterised by expression of S100B protein, and in humans by glial fibrillary acid protein. However, there is evidence for another network of supporting cells in the anterior pituitary that has properties of mural cells, such as vascular smooth muscle cells and pericytes. The present study aims to characterise the distribution of cells that express the mural cell marker platelet derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFRβ) in the mouse pituitary and establish whether these cells are folliculostellate. By immunohistochemical localisation, we determine that approximately 80% of PDGFRβ+ cells in the mouse pituitary have a non-perivascular location and 20% are pericytes. Investigation of gene expression in a magnetic cell sorted population of PDGFRβ+ cells shows that, despite a mostly non-perivascular location, this population is enriched for mural cell markers but not enriched for rat or human folliculostellate cell markers. This is confirmed by immunohistochemistry. The present study concludes that a mural cell network is present throughout the anterior pituitary of the mouse and that this population does not express well-characterised human or rat folliculostellate cell markers.
SOX2, folliculostellate, mural, pituitary