Adenomas can develop from each cell type of the anterior pituitary. In the normal pituitary, three of these cell types, the GH-, prolactin- and TSH-secreting cells, express the transcription factor Pit-1/GHF-1 which is responsible for prolactin and GH (and probably TSH) cell commitment, differentiation, probably proliferation and gene expression. We have analysed the expression of Pit-1/GHF-1 in a panel of human pituitary adenomas. All GH-, prolactin- and TSH-expressing adenomas studied expressed the Pit-1/GHF-1 factor, as demonstrated by in-situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry. The expression was higher in adenomas than in normal human pituitary. In contrast, ACTH- and LH—FSH-secreting and non-secreting adenomas were negative. Seven transplants of the spontaneous rat prolactinoma SMtTW were also investigated and all were found to be positive.
This further stresses the analogy between these tumours and human prolactinomas. Taken together, the data confirm that Pit-1/GHF-1 expression is restricted to GH-, prolactin- and TSH-expressing cells, and the increased expression in adenomas is compatible with a role of Pit-1/GHF-1 in cell proliferation.