Journal of Histochemistry & Cytochemistry vol:41 issue:2 pages:151-6
We have previously shown that bioactive interleukin-6 (IL-6) is produced by rat and mouse (anterior) pituitary cells in vitro. Since the amount produced correlated with the presence of S-100-containing folliculostellate (FS) cells, these cells were suggested to be a source of IL-6 in the anterior pituitary (AP) lobe. In the present study we used immunocytochemical techniques to confirm this presumption. Freshly isolated mouse pituitary cells were subjected to immunocytochemical procedures whereby two different (neutralizing) monoclonal antibodies (MAb) against mouse IL-6 (6B4 and 20F3) and a polyclonal antiserum raised against bovine S-100 were used as primary antibodies. Single immunostaining revealed a small portion of mouse pituitary cells (about 6.5%) to be positive for IL-6 immunoreactivity with both antibodies. Importantly, the same proportion of cells was found to be IL-6 positive if only the AP was used as the cell source. About 7.5% of the pituitary cells stained for the presence of S-100 immunoreactivity. Positive staining for IL-6 was also found in pituitary cell samples from 2-day-old monolayer cultures and from redispersed 9-day-old histotypic aggregates, which both secreted bioassayable IL-6. In contrast, no IL-6 staining was found in AtT-20 cells, an established ACTH-secreting tumor cell line of the mouse pituitary which did not secrete bioactive IL-6. The specificity of the IL-6 immunostaining was demonstrated by a total loss of staining when MAb 6B4 was omitted or replaced by irrelevant rat IgG. Conclusively, pre-adsorption of the anti-IL-6 MAb (6B4) with recombinant mouse IL-6 totally abolished staining of pituitary cells. Double immunostaining for IL-6 and S-100 revealed that most if not all of the IL-6-containing pituitary cells were positive for S-100. Few of the S-100-containing cells did not stain for IL-6. These results confirm our previous hypothesis that FS cells, characterized by immunostaining of S-100 protein, contain bioactive and immunoreactive IL-6 and therefore are very likely producers of IL-6 in the AP. Furthermore, our results suggest that IL-6 is implicated in the local regulatory role ascribed to FS cells in the pituitary gland.