Unbiased Stereological Estimation of the Rat Fetal Pituitary Volume and of the Total Number and Volume of TSH Cells After Maternal Dexamethasone Application
Sekulić, Milka I.
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Glucocorticoids have an inhibitory influence on proliferation activity of the pituitary cells while stimulating apoptosis. Therefore, it was hypothesized that the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone (DX), has an inhibitory influence on the number of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) cells during fetal development. The effects of maternal administration of DX on stereological parameters of TSH cells, and TSH serum concentration were investigated in 21-day-old rat fetuses. On day 16 of pregnancy, the experimental dams received 1.0 mg DX/kg b.w. subcutaneously, followed by 0.5 mg DX/kg b.w./day on days 17 and 18 of gestation. The control gravid females received the same volume of saline vehicle. TSH cells were stained immunocytochemically by the peroxidase-antiperoxidase (PAP) method. The fetal pituitary volumes were estimated using Cavalieri's principle. A physical disector counting technique in combination with the fractionator sampling method was used for estimation of pituitary TSH cell number. Cell and nuclear volumes were measured with a planar rotator. Maternal DX application was found to cause a significant decrease of pituitary volume and number of TSH cells per pituitary in 21-day-old fetuses in comparison with the control fetuses. TSH cell number expressed per body weight unit declined significantly after maternal DX administration. These results indicate an inhibitory DX influence on proliferative activity of precursors and likely differentiated TSH cells and increased apoptotic prevalence. The histological appearance, volume of TSH cells and TSH serum concentration suggest intensive synthetic activity in TSH cells of DX exposed fetuses. Microsc. Res. Tech. 73:1077-1085, 2010. (C) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.