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The Pituitary Gland

Anatomy of the pituitary gland

Pituitary gland
Click image to enlarge

The pituitary gland is sometimes called the "master" gland of the endocrine system because it controls the functions of many of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland is no larger than a pea, and is 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 and blood vessels. The pituitary gland itself consists of 2 major structures:

  • Anterior lobe

  • 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 which regulates  the adrenal glands)

  • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone which regulates the thyroid gland)

  • FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone which regulates the ovaries and testes)

  • LH (luteinizing hormone which regulates the ovaries or testes)

Posterior lobe

  • ADH (antidiuretic hormone is produced in the hypothalamus, stored in the pituitary gland, and increases absorption of water into the blood
    by the kidneys)

  • Oxytocin (to contract the uterus during childbirth and stimulate milk production)

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/19/2014
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