Updated: 12/30/2021

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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