The changes in the content of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and histology of the neuro-intermediate (n.i.) lobe were followed in rats which drank 2% sodium chloride for periods from 1–15 days.
The pars intermedia showed a biphasic response. During the initial phase of 1–4 days there was a rapid rise in the MSH content, by 153% in the first day, falling back to control level by 4 days. These fluctuations were paralleled by an increase in the normally small numbers of Type 2 cells and at the same time numerous Type I cells showed hypertrophy and degranulation.
After 4 days on saline there was a second rise in the MSH content, which was still evident at 15 days; during this second period the number of Type 2 cells declined to normal levels. The degranulated Type 1 cells also disappeared, most of Type 1 being smaller in size and intensely PAS-positive.
After the ingestion of saline it apparently takes several days before the pars intermedia adapts to a new level of activity.
The likely significance of these changes and the possibility of a relationship between the pars intermedia and the neurohypophysis are discussed.