The pituitary gland is defined as a highly “plastic” gland, capable of adapting to the changing needs of the body over the course of a lifetime. In 1969, the first putative pituitary stem cells were isolated, defined as chromophobe cells because of their inability to secrete/incorporate hormones. Since then, studies have improved and have confirmed the presumed existence of a side population characterized by SOX2 expression in both the anterior and marginal pituitary lobes. From the numerous studies conducted to unravel the biological significance of these stem populations, it is currently believed that these cells, at least in the adult basal gland, are highly quiescent; however, their functions are still not well understood.
This review reports the major advances achieved in recent years towards developing protocols for the isolation of pituitary stem cells from healthy tissue and pituitary adenomas, as well as the first studies on their use in regenerative medicine.