General and Comparative Endocrinology vol:166 issue:3 pages:478-488
The pituitary gland represents the endocrine core of the organism, and is well-known for its cellular plasticity in order to meet the body's fluctuating hormonal demands. In the past, it has repeatedly been postulated that the pituitary harbors tissue-specific stem cells that participate in the generation of new endocrine cells during this dynamic cell remodeling, as well as during the slow but robust homeostatic turnover of the gland. However, their presence and identity remained elusive until this conundrum recently attracted renewed interest. Our discovery of a 'side population' using flow cytometry was the first step towards a more convincing candidate stem/progenitor cell population in the endocrine anterior pituitary. Since then, several other groups have endeavored to search for pituitary stem/progenitor cells, which finally culminated in the identification of very strong candidates. Multiple markers were put forward, among which the pluripotency transcription factor Sox2 occupies center stage.