The pituitary intermediate lobe, a source of pro‐opiomelanocortin (POMC) peptides, was examined with light and electron microscopic techniques in Sprague‐Dawley rats aged 5–18 months and Zucker rats aged 18 months. Cysts were common in the intermediate lobe in the Zucker animals, a finding also noted in human pituitary glands by other investigations. The nuclear envelopes were often indented in cells of aging rats, while those of young animals were generally smooth. Lipid droplets and lysosomes, rarely seen in tissue from young animals, were frequently observed in endocrine cells of older rats. Most cells had an abundance of secretory granules, suggestive of enhanced storage of peptides in the cytoplasm. Nerve terminals which were present among endocrine cells contained myelin figures in some of the old rats, and may indicate degenerative changes, while other terminals appeared normal. These morphologic findings suggest that the aging phenomena in intermediate lobe tissue have characteristics in common with nervous tissue, and may also reflect a diminished inhibitory neuroregulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)