Calcium binding proteins such as calbindin and calretinin have been studied in the pituitary gland, but information on them is still incomplete. To investigate the localization, distribution and role of calbindin in the pituitary, several antibodies to calbindin and to other pituitary markers, such as calretinin and tyrosine-hydroxylase, have been used in male, female and lactating rats. Calbindin has not been localised to a specific endocrine cell population unlike calretinin in the thyrotrophs. There was occasional localization in somatotrophs, thyrotrophs and luteotrophs, but not in corticotrophs or lactotrophs. However, there are sex differences in the expression of this protein as the number of calbindin-immunoreactive cells is higher in the male than in the female pituitary. Furthermore, the number of calbindin containing cells, not lactotrophs, increases in lactating rats and decreases after removal of the pups. It is concluded that calbindin expression may be altered by physiological and endocrine events such lactation, even though it is still unclear why the protein is not related to a specific cell type. The simultaneous use of monoclonal and polyclonal antisera to calbindin revealed that the rabbit antibody recognizes nuclear and cytoplasmic calbindin, while the monoclonal one binds only to the cytoplasmic calbindin. The suggestion is that calbindin may have a secondary role that is not simply to bind calcium.
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