Estrogens act as important regulators of cell proliferation, cell survival, and differentiation in a variety of organ systems and tissues and have been implicated in the etiology of a variety of malignant cancers and benign tumors. The anterior pituitary gland of the rat provides an excellent model for the study of estrogen action in the regulation of cell proliferation and survival. Estrogens stimulate proliferation of the prolactin (PRL)-producing lactotroph and enhance lactotroph survival. Through these actions on lactotroph proliferation and survival, estrogens induce or contribute to the development of PRL-producing pituitary tumors in several rat strains. Data from our laboratory and others indicate that estrogen- induced pituitary growth is rat strain specific and segregates as a quantitative genetic trait in crosses between different rat strains. The purpose of this review is to summarize current knowledge pertaining to estrogen action in the regulation of cell proliferation, cell survival, and tumorigenesis in the anterior pituitary gland of the rat species, Rattus norvegicus, and to illustrate the advantages of the rat pituitary gland as a model for elucidating the mechanisms through which estrogens regulate these processes.
- Anterior pituitary
- Pituitary tumor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism