Human anterior pituitary’s ACTH cells during the aging process: immunohistochemic and morphometric study.
Corticotrophs produce a hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland cortex to secrete glucocorticoids, which in turn have effects on carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Quantification, morphological characteristics, and distribution of corticotrophs in the anterior pituitary and changes in the number and shape of the cells during aging have been examined using immunohistochemical and morphometric methods. The material consisted of 14 anterior pituitaries taken from cadavers at routine autopsy. The tissue was processed by standard histological procedure and the obtained slices were stained by the monoclonal anti-ACTH antibody for corticotrophs identification. Digital images of stained histological sections were analyzed using the morphometric method with the Image J system. The volume density of ACTH positive cells was determined. The cases were classified into three age groups. One-way ANOVA showed that the volume density of the corticotrophs was significantly higher in the second and third group in relation to the first group. The difference in the volume densities of the corticotrophs between the genders was not significant. Morphometric and statistical analyses demonstrated a significant positive correlation between the corticotrophs volume densities and the age of the evaluated cases. Linear regression showed that age significantly predicts corticotrophs volume density. Corticotrophs significantly increase during the life span.