Pituitary stem cells: where do we stand?

Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Hugo Vankelecom, Jianghai Chen


Some 5 years ago, the stem cells of the adult pituitary gland were discovered. Subsequent in-depth characterization revealed expression of several stemness markers and embryo-typical factors. Now, the quest is open to decipher their role in the gland. When and how pituitary stem cells differentiate to contribute to the mature hormone-producing cell populations is not known. New research models support their involvement in cell regeneration after injury in the gland, and suggest a possible role in pituitary tumor formation. From their expression phenotype, pituitary stem cells seem to re-use embryonic developmental programs during the creation of new hormonal cells. Here, we will review the latest progression in the domain of pituitary stem cells, including the uncovering of some new molecular flavors and of the first potential functions. Eventually, we will speculate on their differentiation programs towards hormonal cells, with a particular focus on gonadotropes.


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