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Pituitary gland

from ancient Greek: ὑπόφυσις ("hypóphysis") - "the lower plant"
Synonyms: hypophysis, pituitary gland
German: Hypophyse, Hirnanhangdrüse, Glandula pituitaria

1 Definition

The pituitary gland is a hazelnut-sized hormone gland enclosed by taut connective tissue. It is connected to the hypothalamus via the infundibulum.

2 Anatomy

The pituitary gland is located at the skull base in the hypophyseal fossa (Latin: fossa hypophysialis). The respective bony structure of the sphenoid bone is called sella turcica (“Turkish seat”). Above, the hypophyseal fossa is delineated from the brain by the sellar diaphragm.

3 Classification

You can differentiate between the anterior pituitary (adenohypophysis) and the posterior pituitary, which also is called neurohypophysis. The anterior pituitary is connected to the median eminence via the so-called hypophyseal portal system.

4 Embryology

The pituitary gland derives from ectodermal tissue, which stems from two sources:

5 Physiology

The secretion of the anterior pituitary hormones is controlled by the releasinh and inhibiting hormones of the hypopthalamus. The posterior pituitary hormones actually come from he hypothalamus. They are bound to neurophysins and are transported to the posterior pituitary via axoplasmic transport. There, they are stored and released as needed by splitting off the neurophysins.

6 Hormones of the anterior pituitary

7 Hormones of the posterior pituitary

8 Pituitary disorders

  • Deficiency disorders (hypopituitarism): Every hormone-producing part of the pituitary can have an individual or combined defect. When the complete pituitary is defect, this is called panhypopituitarism.
  • Hormone excess: Every hormone-producing part of the pituitary can generate a benign tumor, which could produce a hormone excess (hyperpituitarism). Such a condition would be called pituitary adenoma. The increased secretion of growth hormone, for example, leads to the medical condition called acromegaly.

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