Extracellular Accumulations in the Avian Pituitary Gland: Histochemical Analysis in Two Species of Indian Wild Birds

Cells Tissues Organs. 2006;183(2):99-106. doi: 10.1159/000095514.


Extracellular accumulations of two distinct types, colloid-filled follicles and fibrous-material-containing cysts, were observed in the pituitary gland of two species of Indian wild birds, Halcyon smyrnensis perpulchra and Lonchura striata striata. Colloid follicles were regular structures and distributed throughout the pars distalis (PD). The fibrous cysts were irregular structures, bigger than the colloid follicles and mostly observed towards the ventral margin of the PD. Sometimes disruption of the outer margin with depletion of fibrous material from the cavity was observed. Hormone-secreting cells of various types, anti-adrenocorticotropic-hormone-, anti-prolactin-, anti-growth-hormone- and anti-luteinizing-hormone-immunoreactive cells were encountered bordering both the colloid follicles and fibrous cysts. Neither the colloid nor the fibrous material showed any immunoreaction to any of the pituitary hormone antisera. On histochemical staining colloid was positive to periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) and fibrous materials stained with Alcian blue-PAS-orange G staining. Colloid depositions in the pituitary gland of these two wild birds were correlated to age, more in numbers in the adult birds than in the young ones. Fibrous-material-containing cysts were elucidated in the pituitary gland of adult birds only. These were more prevalent in the pituitary of reproductively active birds. Regular morphology of the colloid follicles, overall distribution in the adenohypophysis and dense nature of deposition of the colloid suggest the accumulation of this type may be the secretory products of both granulated and agranulated pituitary cell types. Absence of immunoreactivity of the colloid against pituitary hormone antisera points out that the storage form may differ chemically from the bioactive hormones. The spatial distribution of fibrous-material-containing cysts mostly towards the ventral PD, observations of immunoreactive cell fragmentations inside the cysts, and their disrupted margins suggest these structures may have some role in discharging the intraglandular degradation products.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / analysis
  • Animals
  • Birds / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Space / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / analysis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • India
  • Luteinizing Hormone / analysis
  • Male
  • Pituitary Gland / anatomy & histology
  • Pituitary Gland / cytology
  • Pituitary Gland / metabolism*
  • Prolactin / analysis
  • Species Specificity
  • Thyrotropin / analysis


  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Thyrotropin
  • Growth Hormone