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J Bello-Pineda, J Luna, MC Romano, and ME Mendoza

The secretion of LH from the anterior pituitary of male rats was studied at different periods of postnatal development. According to an established classification we used rats 14 (infantile), 23 (juvenile), 45 (pubertal) and 90 (adult) days old. By using an in vitro incubation system, both basal and stimulated LH secretion were studied in the same gland. Age-related differences were observed in basal LH secretion, with juvenile and pubertal pituitaries showing higher secretion compared with infantile and adult pituitaries. However, the GnRH-induced secretory response was significantly higher in the infantile rats than in other ages. LH secretion was also studied in primary cultures from infantile or adult pituitaries. In 24 and 48 h cultures, infantile cells showed a significantly larger response to GnRH than that of adult cells. In the infantile pituitary LH-immunopositive cells showed differences in size at different locations in the gland. At the periphery of the lobes the predominant cells were smaller and angular shaped, whereas in the center of the gland the majority of the cells were ovoid shaped. In the adult pituitary, the predominant LH-positive cells were ovoid in shape and larger in size. Furthermore, 10% more LH-positive cells were observed in infantile pituitaries. On the basis of these data we propose that at the infantile period the male rat pituitary has two populations of LH-secreting cells, one with adult secretory function and shape and a second with increased sensitivity to GnRH and with a morphology atypical of the adult cell. The results presented support the hypothesis that the infantile period is a transitional stage in the rat pituitary development.

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Cannulae containing oestrogen were implanted in the mammary glands of rats on the first day after parturition and lactation assessed by daily measurements of the litter weight. Sham-implanted and intact lactating rats were used as controls. A clear-cut inhibition of the milk yield was observed in the oestrogen-implanted group. Mammary tissue was processed for fine structural study after 4, 8 or 10 days. The initial phase showed milk stasis and secretion of colostrum progressively involving the alveoli and culminating in regression of the mammary tissue. Disappearance of myofilaments from the myoepithelial cells was consistently observed. Secretion of colostrum and mammary regression could be the result of the stasis produced by an abnormal dynamic state of the myoepithelial cell elicited by the steroid.

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MT Martinez-Merlos, M Angeles-Castellanos, M Diaz-Munoz, R Aguilar-Roblero, J Mendoza, and C Escobar

Digestive and metabolic processes are entrained by restricted feeding (RFS) schedules and are thought to be potential elements of a food-entrained oscillator (FEO). Due to the close relationship of leptin with metabolic regulation and because leptin is a relevant communication signal of the individual's peripheral metabolic condition with the central nervous system, we explored whether leptin is an endogenous entraining signal from the periphery to a central element of an FEO. First we characterized in the rat the diurnal rhythm of serum leptin (in rats fed ad libitum (AL)), its adjustment to an RFS and the influence of fasting after RFS, or RFS followed by AL feeding and then total food deprivation (RF-AF) in the persistence of this fluctuating pattern. We also explored the response of free fatty acids and stomach weight under the same entraining conditions. We compared the metabolic response with the behavioral expression of drinking anticipatory activity (AA) under the same conditions. Finally, we tested the effect of daily i.c.v administration of leptin as a putative entraining signal for the generation of AA.Metabolic parameters responded to food entrainment by adjusting their phase to mealtime. However, leptin and free fatty acid rhythms persisted only for a few cycles in fasting conditions and readjusted to the light-darkness cycle after an RF-AF protocol. In contrast, behavioral food-entrained rhythms persisted after both fasting manipulations. Daily leptin i.c.v. administration did not produce AA, nor produce changes in the behavioral free-running rhythm. Stomach weight indicated an adaptive process allowing an extreme stomach distension followed by a slow emptying process, which suggests that the stomach may be playing a relevant role as a storage organ. In conclusion, metabolic signals here studied respond to feeding schedules by adjusting their phase to mealtime, but do only persist for a few cycles in fasting. Leptin does not produce AA and thus is not an entraining signal for FEO. The response of metabolic signals to feeding schedules depends on different mechanisms than the expression of AA.

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Amy R Quinn, Cynthia L Blanco, Carla Perego, Giovanna Finzi, Stefano La Rosa, Carlo Capella, Rodolfo Guardado-Mendoza, Francesca Casiraghi, Amalia Gastaldelli, Marney Johnson, Edward J Dick Jr, and Franco Folli

Erratic regulation of glucose metabolism including hyperglycemia is a common condition in premature infants and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The objective of this study was to examine histological and ultrastructural differences in the endocrine pancreas in fetal (throughout gestation) and neonatal baboons. Twelve fetal baboons were delivered at 125 days (d) gestational age (GA), 140d GA, or 175d GA. Eight animals were delivered at term (185d GA); half were fed for 5 days. Seventy-three nondiabetic adult baboons were used for comparison. Pancreatic tissue was studied using light microscopy, confocal imaging, and electron microscopy. The fetal and neonatal endocrine pancreas islet architecture became more organized as GA advanced. The percent areas of α-β-δ-cell type were similar within each fetal and newborn GA (NS) but were higher than the adults (P<0.05) regardless of GA. The ratio of β cells within the islet (whole and core) increased with gestation (P<0.01). Neonatal baboons, which survived for 5 days (feeding), had a 2.5-fold increase in pancreas weight compared with their counterparts killed at birth (P=0.01). Endocrine cells were also found in exocrine ductal and acinar cells in 125, 140 and 175d GA fetuses. Subpopulation of tissue that coexpressed trypsin and glucagon/insulin shows the presence of cells with mixed endo–exocrine lineage in fetuses. In summary, the fetal endocrine pancreas has no prevalence of a α-β-δ-cell type with larger endocrine cell percent areas than adults. Cells with mixed endocrine/exocrine phenotype occur during fetal development. Developmental differences may play a role in glucose homeostasis during the neonatal period and may have long-term implications.