The anterior pituitary gland consists of a heterogeneous population of various cell types. To study a single cell type with a homogeneous cell population, one can perform laser capture microdissection (LCM). Because different pituitary cells have unique immunophenotypic profiles, it is possible to perform immunohistochemical staining before LCM (immuno-LCM) for the collection of a phenotypically homogeneous cell population. These techniques were developed and applied to dissociated anterior pituitary cells and cultured pituitary cells. When combined with reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, it is possible to analyze gene expression in as few as one to 10 pituitary cells. We have used the immuno-LCM technique to prepare homogeneous populations of folliculostellate cells. These cells were analyzed for expression of peptides and receptors. Anterior pituitary hormones were not expressed by these cells. These results show the utility of immuno-LCM for cellular and molecular studies of gene expression.
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