Relationship between arginine vasopressin and high signal intensity in the pituitary posterior lobe on T1-weighted MR images in dogs

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Teshima T, Hara Y, Masuda H, et al.

J Vet Med Sci 2008;70:693-699.

The posterior lobe of the pituitary gland (PL) normally shows characteristic high signal intensity (SI) on T1-weighted MR images (T1WI) in humans. The high SI is thought to represent storage of arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the PL. Normal dogs also show a high SI on T1WIs, but the origin is unclear. In the present study, we investigated whether the high SI in the PL on T1WIs in normal dogs is caused by AVP. We examined the SI in the PL on T1WIs, plasma AVP concentrations and plasma osmolality in normal dogs after excessive AVP secretion was induced by hypertonic saline overload. In addition, functional changes in the supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus under AVP secretion-stimulated conditions were examined immunohistologically. Under hypertonic saline overload, plasma osmolality and plasma AVP concentrations gradually increased, while the SI of the PL gradually decreased. This suggests that AVP secretion was stimulated by elevated osmolality. Moreover, there was a significant negative correlation between plasma AVP concentrations and the SI ratio of the PL. An immunohistochemical study of the hypothalamus nucleus revealed that AVP-immunopositive cells significantly increased in the hypertonic saline loaded dogs. We concluded that the high SI in the PL in T1WIs in normal dogs was caused by AVP stored at the site, and examination of the SI in the PL using MRI is useful for diagnosis of abnormal pituitary glands.