Morphological aspects of the hypothalamic-hypophyseal system

Research paper by I. G. Akmayev, A. P. Popov

Indexed on: 01 May '77Published on: 01 May '77Published in: Cell and Tissue Research


The ultrastructure of the tanycyte ependyma in male 160–180 g Wistar albino rats was studied under normal conditions and in experiments involving long-term suppression of ACTH secretion and its long-term stimulation. The former was accomplished by daily (for 8 days) intraperitoneal administration of dexamethasone phosphate at low (5 μg/100 g) and high (100 μg/100 g) concentrations. The effectiveness of suppression of the hypothalamic-hypophyseal-adrenal system in the experimental animals was judged by their reaction to two-minute ether stress (determination of plasma corticosterone) and by the results of measurement of the adrenal weights. Stimulation of ACTH secretion was achieved by bilateral adrenalectomy; the animals were examined on days 8, 10, 14, and 22 following the operation. The results obtained were in agreement with the previously established fact that there is a negative correlation between tanycyte activity and hypophyseal adrenocorticotrophic function (Akmayev and Fidelina, 1974). They also testified to the predominant involvement of the median eminence tanycyte ependyma (beta-tanycytes according to the authors' nomenclature) in these relationships.It is supposed that these correlations are regulated by a feedback mechanism and attest to the involvement of beta-tanycytes in the inhibiting control of hypophyseal adrenocorticotrophic function. The mechanism of this control may be explained alternatively: either the tanycytes transport ACTH-suppressing substances (catecholamines, corticosteroids, ACTH) from the CSF to the hypophyseal portal system or they themselves secrete substances possessing ACTH-suppressive activity. The authors distinguish several types of vesicles in the beta-tanycytes, the number of which changed with experimentally induced shifts in hypophyseal adrenocorticotrophic function. These vesicles are discussed in connection with the transport and secretory activity of the tanycytes and are considered to be a possible substrate of the hypothalamic inhibiting effect on ACTH secretion.