Molecular and cellular endocrinology vol:293 pages:17-24
The ease of in vivo experimental manipulation is one of the main factors that have made the chicken embryo an important animal model in developmental research, including developmental endocrinology. This review focuses on the development of the thyrotropic, corticotropic and somatotropic axes in the chicken, emphasizing the central role of the pituitary gland in these endocrine systems. Functional maturation of the endocrine axes entails the cellular differentiation and acquisition of cell function and responsiveness of the different glands involved, as well as the establishment of top-down and bottom-up anatomical and functional communication between the control levels. Extensive cross-talk between the above-mentioned axes accounts for the marked endocrine changes observed during the last third of embryonic development. In a final paragraph we shortly discuss how genomic resources and new transgenesis techniques can increase the power of the chicken embryo model in developmental endocrinology research.