Ontogenetic development of FMRFamide immunoreactivity in the cells and nerve fibers of the pituitary was studied in the tree shrew Tupaia belangeri. Up to the 26th day of gestation (E26), no FMRFamide immunoreactivity was visible. From E27 onwards it increased continuously until prenatally, on E41, the adult pattern was reached in the adenohypophysis, although at a lower intensity. In the adult Tupaia, as in the other mammals studied so far, a finely stained FMRFamide-immunoreactive fiber network was visible in the neural lobe and the infundibular stalk. As in several other adult mammals including man, endocrine cells in the pars intermedia and numerous scattered cells in the pars distalis were labeled, in contrast to several reports on rats and our studies on Galago, showing no FMRFamide-immunoreactive cells in these locations of the pituitary. With reference to the 'basophil invasion', we found FMRFamide-immunoreactive endocrine cells invading the neural lobe from the pars intermedia during the pituitary development. The distribution pattern of FMRFamide immunoreactivity in Tupaia indicates that the mammalian counterparts of FMRFamide may function as neuromodulators, neurotransmitters or as hormones already in defined prenatal stages.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.