Anterior pituitary: what it is and how it works (2023)

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What is the anterior pituitary?

The anterior pituitary is the frontal lobe of yourhypophysis, which is a small pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain, below the hypothalamus. Your pituitary gland is a part of youhormonal systemand controls the function of several other endocrine glands.

Your pituitary gland consists of two lobes: the anterior (front) lobe and the posterior (back) lobe. The anterior pituitary gland produces and releases over six different hormones that regulate various cellular processes, including:

  • Growth.
  • metabolism(how your body converts and manages energy from the food you eat).
  • Reproduction.
  • answer toto emphasizeor trauma.
  • lactation.

What is the pituitary gland?

Your pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of your brain, below the hypothalamus. It is responsible for making many different important hormones. Your pituitary gland also directs other glands in your endocrine system to release hormones.

Your pituitary gland is connected to your hypothalamus by a stalk of blood vessels and nerves. This is called the pituitary stalk. Through the talus, your hypothalamus communicates with your pituitary gland, directing it to release certain hormones. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls functions such asblood pressure,heartbeat, body temperature and digestion.

Your pituitary gland produces the following hormones:

(Video) The Endocrine System | Summary of the Anterior Pituitary

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH or Corticotropin).
  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH or vasopressin).
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).
  • growth hormone (GH).
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH).
  • oxytocin.
  • Prolactin.
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

Your pituitary gland does not continuously produce and release all these hormones. Most are released in spurts every one to three hours, alternating with periods of activity and inactivity.

Another term to describe the release of hormones from the pituitary gland is pulsatile. Your pituitary gland may secrete some hormones based on your circadian rhythm.

What is the endocrine system?

Your endocrine system is a network of various glands that produce and secrete (release) hormones.

A gland is an organ that produces one or more substances, such as hormones, digestive juices, sweat, or tears. Endocrine glands release hormones directly into the bloodstream.

Hormones are chemicals that coordinate various functions in your body, carrying messages through your blood to your organs, muscles and other tissues. These signals tell your body what to do and when to do it.

The following organs and glands make up your endocrine system:

(Video) Anterior Pituitary Gland | Endocrine System

  • hypothalamus.
  • pituitary.
  • Thyroid.
  • parathyroid glands.
  • adrenal glands.
  • Pineal gland.
  • pancreas.
  • ovaries.
  • testicles


What hormones are secreted by the anterior pituitary?

Your anterior pituitary gland produces and releases (secrets) six major hormones:

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone(ACTH or corticotropin): This hormone stimulates your adrenal glands (the glands in yourRins) to produce cortisol and other hormones.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): This hormone stimulates the testes to produce sperm and stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs and estrogen.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH): This hormone stimulatesOvulationin women and testosterone production in men.
  • Growth Hormone (GH):In children, growth hormone stimulates growth. In adults, growth hormone helps maintain healthy muscles and bones and affects fat distribution.
  • prolactin: This post hormone stimulates the mother's milk productiongiving birthand can influencethe menstrual period, fertility and sexual function (causing low testosterone levels in individuals classified as male at birth and low estrogen in individuals classified as female at birth).
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): This hormone stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones that control metabolism, energy and the bodynervous system.

How does the anterior pituitary interact with other organs and glands?

Your anterior pituitary gland interacts directly with the hypothalamus because the hypothalamus regulates it by secreting the "releasing hormones" somatostatin and dopamine through blood vessels in the pituitary stalk. These releasing hormones either stimulate or inhibit (prevent) the formation and release of hormones from the anterior pituitary gland. Your hypothalamus and the anterior pituitary gland are in constant communication with each other.

The anterior pituitary hormones interact with and affect many different organs, glands, and tissues in your body, including:

  • Osso,musclesand organs — growth hormone (GH).
  • Adrenal gland — adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
  • Thyroid – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
  • Ovaries and testes – luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
  • Milchdrusen — Prolactina.


Where is the anterior pituitary located?

Your pituitary gland is located at the base of your brain, behind the bridge of your nose and just below your hypothalamus. It sits in a small chamber or pocket in the sphenoid bone called the sella turcica.

(Video) 2-Minute Neuroscience: Hypothalamus & Pituitary Gland

Your pituitary gland is made up of two lobes that touch each other. The anterior pituitary is located at the front and faces the front of the head, while the posterior pituitary is the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, meaning it faces the back of the head.

How big is the anterior pituitary?

Your pituitary gland is only about 1/3 of an inch in total diameter - about the size of a pea. The anterior pituitary is larger than the posterior pituitary and accounts for about 80% of the total weight of the pituitary gland.

What is the anterior pituitary made of?

The anterior pituitary gland is made up of clusters of cells that produce and secrete six hormones into your bloodstream. Different types of cell clusters produce and release different hormones, including:

  • Corticotropic drugs produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
  • Thyrotrophs produce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
  • Somatotrophs produce growth hormone (GH).
  • The gonadotrophs produce follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
  • Lactotrophs produce prolactin (PRL).

conditions and interruptions

What diseases are associated with the anterior pituitary gland?

Several different conditions are linked to problems with the anterior pituitary gland because it produces many different hormones. In general, most diseases of the anterior pituitary gland are due to it.hypopituitarism(hypophysis) orhyperpituitarism(hypophysis). Under these conditions, the anterior pituitary gland produces too little or too much of one or more hormones.

Hypopituitarism and hyperpituitarism are usually caused by any of the following conditions or situations:

(Video) Anterior v Posterior Pituitary Gland - PLUS Anterior Pituitary Hormones Mnemonic (FLAT PEG)

  • Tumor of the pituitary gland (adenoma).
  • Damage to the anterior pituitary gland, hypothalamus, or pituitary stalk due to injury, infection, or blood loss.
  • Genetic disorders such as multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN).

Conditions of Hypopituitarism

Conditions resulting from lower than normal levels of one or more anterior pituitary hormones include:

  • Secondary adrenal insufficiency: Normally, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) signals your adrenal glands to produce cortisol, an essential hormone. When your pituitary gland produces low levels of ACTH, it leads to an underactive adrenal gland. This is called central or secondary adrenal insufficiency (not to be confused withaddison's disease, which is a cortisol deficiency due to a primary adrenal problem).
  • growth hormone deficiency: This condition occurs when the anterior pituitary gland releases below normal levels of growth hormone (GH). GH deficiency in adults can lead to changes in body composition due to changes in fat and muscle, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and loss of energy. When GH deficiency in children leads to poor overall growth and short stature.
  • hypogonadism(low sex hormones): Hypogonadism occurs when the sex glands do not produce enough sex hormones, which can affect your sex drive and fertility. This can happen when the anterior pituitary gland releases below normal levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and/or luteinizing hormone (LH), which in turn leads to low levels of testosterone and estrogen.
  • hypothyroidism: When the anterior pituitary gland produces too little thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), it can lead to hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland becomes underactive and produces too little of its own hormones.

States of hyperpituitarism

Conditions resulting from higher than normal levels of one or more anterior pituitary hormones include:

  • Acromegaly: Acromegaly is a very rare condition that occurs when a benign (benign) tumor in the anterior pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone (GH). It affects the bones and tissues in your body, causing them to grow abnormally. Acromegaly affects adults and common symptoms include an increase in the size of your hands, feet, lips and jaw.
  • Morbus Cushing: Cushing's syndrome occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Cushing's disease, a type ofCushing's Syndrome, occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol due to a problem with the anterior pituitary gland. Cushing's disease is caused by a benign tumor in the anterior pituitary gland that produces too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), causing the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol. It can cause rapid weight gain, particularly in the face, abdomen and neck, in addition to other symptoms.
  • hyperthyroidism: When the anterior pituitary gland releases too much thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), usually from a benign pituitary tumor, it can lead to hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid becomes overactive and releases too many of its own hormones. This is a very rare cause of hyperthyroidism.

Tumor of the pituitary gland (adenoma)

A pituitary adenoma is a growth or tumor on the pituitary gland. Most pituitary adenomas are slow-growing and benign (non-cancerous). Adenomas can put pressure on normal pituitary cells, preventing them from working properly, leading to hypopituitarism, especially when large. They can also release extra pituitary hormones, leading to hyperpituitarism (excess pituitary hormone).

Pituitary adenomas represent 10 to 15% of all tumors that develop in the skull. They are found in about 77 out of every 100,000 people, although researchers believe that up to 20% of people actually experience them at some point in their lives. However, many pituitary adenomas, especially very small ones, do not cause severe symptoms and are never detected.

What tests can check the health of my anterior pituitary gland?

If you have symptoms related to problems with your anterior pituitary gland, your doctor may order tests to check one or more hormone levels in your anterior pituitary gland, depending on what symptoms you are having. These tests are usually blood tests.

If your test results are abnormal, your doctor may suggest an imaging test, such asMRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)to take a look at your pituitary gland.

(Video) Anterior Pituitary Hormones

A note from the Cleveland Clinic

Because the anterior pituitary gland is responsible for a number of different hormones that affect many aspects of the body and health, it can be difficult to determine whether certain symptoms are due to problems with the anterior pituitary gland. If you develop new or concerning symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor. They can usually run a few simple tests to assess your health.


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