Numerous studies indicate that an impaired hypothalamopituitary axis plays an important role in reproductive and thyroid disorders in diabetic humans and animal models. Yet, several questions about the pathogenesis of these diabetic complications have not been answered. To evaluate the basal secretion of single gonadotrophs and thyrotrophs in vitro, uncultured pituitary cells from control rats and 1-mo streptozocin-induced diabetic (STZ-D) rats were studied with a reverse hemolytic plaque assay and morphometry. After light-microscopy immunocytochemistry for gonadotropin and thyrotropin (TSH), we recorded the ratio of plaqueforming to non—plaque-forming cells. The area of plaques produced by luteinizing hormone (LH), folliclestimulating hormone (FSH), and TSH cells and the area of plaque-forming and non—plaque-forming cells were clearly smaller in diabetic than control rats. The plaque area, however, was more severely reduced than the cell area. The percentage of LH-, FSH-, and TSHimmunoreactive plaque-forming cells was greatly decreased in diabetic compared with control animals. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that the LH-, FSH-, and TSH-secreting cells of diabetic rats released less hormone and were less numerous than the corresponding cells of control rats. Thus, several pathogenetic mechanisms might be involved in reduced gonadotropin and TSH release at the cellular level: 1) anatomical lesions of organelles involved in glycoprotein hormone synthesis and secretion, possibly due to insulin deficiency; 2) decreased gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) receptors on pituitary cells; 3) inadequate GnRH and TRH stimulation; 4) high plasma corticosterone levels; or 5) a combination of points 1–4.

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