Pituicytes are located in the pars nervosa of the posterior pituitary interspersed with unmyelinated axons and Herring bodies. They generally stain dark purple with an H&E stain, and are among the easiest structures to identify in the region. Pituicytes have an irregular and branched shape which resembles that of another type of glial cell: the astrocyte. Like astrocytes, their cytoplasm presents specific intermediate filaments made up of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP).
Pituicytes are similar to astrocytes, another type of glial cell. Their main role is to assist in the storage and release of hormones of the posterior pituitary. Pituicytes surround axonal endings and regulate hormone secretion by releasing their processes from these endings.
Pituicytomas are rare tumors that arise from pituicytes. They may be mistaken for the much more common pituitary adenoma, as well as craniopharyngioma and meningioma. Symptoms from the mass effect of the tumor usually include vision disorders, and less often headaches, hypopituitarism (decreased function of the pituitary gland), fatigue, and decreased libido.
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- Histology image: 38_08 at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
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