Updated: 10/22/2020

Pituitary Physiology

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Introduction
  • The pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is set in the sella turcica, a depression of the sphenoid bone
  • It is split between
    • anterior pituitary
    • posterior pituitary
    • intermediate zone
      • produces melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) which stimulates melanin production in melanocytes
  • Regulation
    • the hypothalamus maintains homeostasis in the body
      • release hormones to trigger the anterior and posterior pituitary to release its hormones
        • corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) from hypothalamus triggers adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) release from anterior pituitary
        • thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH) from hypothalamus triggers thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and prolactin release from anterior pituitary 
    • negative feedback loop to hypothalamus, which will decrease its hormones, which will in turn decrease the amount of hormones released from the pituitary
Anterior Pituitary
  • Anterior pituitary
    • also known as adenohypophysis
    • glandular component made of endocrine cells
    • derived from oral ectoderm (Rathke’s pouch)
    • synthesizes and secretes multiple hormones
  • Hormones
    • produced in, stored in, and secreted by the anterior pituitary gland
Anterior Pituitary Hormones
Hormone
Class
Function
Growth hormone
  • Protein
  • Growth of body tissues
  • Promotes protein synthesis and tissue building

Prolactin

  • Peptide
  • Production of milk through mammary glands
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
  • Peptide
  • Stimulates adrenal cortex to release its hormones
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
  • Glycoprotein
  • Stimulates thyroid to release its hormones
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • Glycoprotein
  • Stimulates production of gametes, including ova and sperm, in gonads
  • Promotes follicular growth
Luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • Glycoprotein
  • Stimulates androgen production in gonads
  • Triggers ovulation in women
 
Posterior Pituitary
  • Posterior pituitary
    • also known as neurohypophysis
    • composed of neural tissues
    • derived from neuroectoderm
  • Hormones
    • produced by hypothalamus
    • stored in and secreted by the posterior pituitary
 
Posterior Pituitary Hormones
Hormone
Class
Function
Oxytocin
  • Peptide
  • Stimulates uterine contractions during childbirth

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH)

  • Peptide
  • Stimulates reabsorption of water in the kidneys
 

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