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Issue 131 Spring 2019

Endocrinologist > Spring 2019 > Hot topics

Organoids as a model for pituitary stem cell exploration

| Hot topics

This study describes the development of pituitary organoids as a tool for understanding pituitary stem cells. Organoids are three-dimensional structures cultured in vitro, which may more closely resemble the organ from which they are derived (e.g. in terms of function and phenotype) than traditional cell culture.

Cox et al. collected anterior pituitary tissue from euthanised mice, and suspended cells in droplets made from culture medium and Matrigel® matrix. These were allowed to grow into spherical structures, dubbed ‘pituispheres’, and were supplemented with appropriate nutrients and growth factors. Differentiation into different endocrine cell types was limited. Some immunopositivity was seen for growth hormone, prolactin and the α glycoprotein subunit of thyrotrophin, luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone in organoids transplanted sub-renally into living mice. The investigators also found that organoids cultured from damaged pituitary tissue were more likely to be cystic.

Whilst the model currently has limitations, there is undoubtedly much potential for pituitary organoids to be a valuable tool in pituitary stem cell research.

Read the full article in Journal of Endocrinology 240 287–308

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