The pituitary gland is a pea-sized endocrine gland situated in the middle of the skull base and kept protected within a bony cavity called the sella turcica.
The hormones produced by the pituitary gland are classified into two sections:
The pituitary gland is divided into two parts: the anterior pituitary gland and posterior pituitary gland.
- Anterior pituitary includes growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH), adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH).
- The posterior pituitary includes anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) and oxytocin.
Functions of pituitary hormones
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) – a glycoprotein that stimulates the production and secretion of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) by the thyroid gland.
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) – stimulates the adrenal gland to release stress hormones, especially cortisol.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormones (LH) are collectively known as gonadotrophins, which stimulate the ovary to release estrogen and progesterone and the testes to release testosterone.
- Growth hormone (GH) – This hormone stimulates growth in children and maintains various body tissues/organs.
- Prolactin – This hormone stimulates the mammary glands to produce milk after childbirth.
- Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) –This hormone is also known as vasopressin. It controls water retention by the kidney and regulates fluid balance and mineral concentration in the body.
- Oxytocin – This hormone stimulates uterine contraction, which is essential during the delivery of a baby.