The Pituitary Gland

Anatomy of the pituitary gland:

The pituitary gland is sometimes called the "master" gland of the endocrine system, because it controls the functions of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland is no larger than a pea, located at the base of the brain. The gland is attached to the hypothalamus (a part of the brain that affects the pituitary gland) by nerve fibers. The pituitary gland itself consists of three sections:

  • the anterior lobe
  • the intermediate lobe
  • the posterior lobe

Functions of the pituitary gland:

Each lobe of the pituitary gland produces certain hormones.

anterior lobe:
  • growth hormone
  • prolactin - to stimulate milk production after giving birth
  • ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) - to stimulate the adrenal glands
  • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) - to stimulate the thyroid gland
  • FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) - to stimulate the ovaries and testes
  • LH (luteinizing hormone) - to stimulate the ovaries or testes
intermediate lobe:
  • melanocyte-stimulating hormone - to control skin pigmentation
posterior lobe:
  • ADH (antidiuretic hormone) - to increase absorption of water into the blood
    by the kidneys
  • oxytocin - to contract the uterus during childbirth and stimulate milk production

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