In amphibians, it has already been shown that the adenohypophysis originates from the anterior neural ridge. During the migration and morphogenesis of this organ, the anterior neural ridge transiently forms a Rathke's pouch-like structure by attaching itself to the rostral tip of the foregut, and finally gives rise to the adenohypophysis by detaching from the foregut and becoming connected to the infundibulum of the hypothalamus. In order to identify the origin of the adenohypophyseal cells in mammalian embryos prior to the formation of Rathke's pouch (RP), we labeled the rostral end of the neural plate and the adjacent area focally with DiI at the open neurula stage (9.5 dpc). After a 48-hours culture of the whole embryos, strongly labeled cells were detected in the RP only when DiI was applied to a small area situated just anterior to the rostral end of the neural plate. By explanting the labeled RP for a further 7 days, we confirmed immunohistochemically that the labeled cells developed into the secretory cells of the adenohypophysis. The developmental origin of the adenohypophysis is identified for the first time in the early mammalian embryo before the formation of RP.

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