Both endocrine and non-endocrine cells of the pituitary gland are organized into structural and functional networks which are formed during embryonic development but which may be modified throughout life. Structural mapping of the various endocrine cell types has highlighted the existence of distinct network motifs and relationships with the vasculature which may relate to temporal differences in their output. Functional characterization of the network activity of growth hormone and prolactin cells has revealed a role for cell organization in gene regulation, the plasticity of pituitary hormone output and remarkably the ability to memorize altered demand. As such, the description of these endocrine cell networks alters the concept of the pituitary from a gland which simply responds to external regulation to that of an oscillator which may memorize information and constantly adapt its coordinated networks' responses to the flow of hypothalamic inputs.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Inc.