The Pituitary


The pituitary gland is central to the regulation and functional integrity of many peripheral hormone systems. Based at the base of the brain, the pituitary integrates signals from higher centres with feedback from the peripheral endocrine glands, and in turn releases the requisite amount of hormone or trophic factor for the prevailing metabolic and physiological conditions.

Keywords: adenohypophysis; neurohypophysis; hypothalamus

Figure 1.

Control of hypothalamic–pituitary–target organ axes. Reproduced from Melmed S (2001) Disorders of anterior pituitary and hypothalamus. In: Braunwald E, Facui AS, Kasper DL et al. (eds). Harrison's Textbook of Medicine, 15th edn, p. 2030. New York: McGraw‐Hill.

Figure 2.

Model for development of the human anterior pituitary gland and cell‐lineage determination by a cascade of transcription factors. Trophic cells are depicted with transcription factors known to determine cell‐specific gene expression. Adapted from Shimon I and Melmed S (1996) In: Conn P and Melmed S (eds), Anterior pituitary hormones in Scientific Basis of Endocrinology, pp. 30–47. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.


Further Reading

Crowley WR and Armstrong WE (1992) Neurochemical regulation of oxytocin secretion in lactation. Endocrine Reviews 13: 33–65.

Giustina A and Veldhuis JD (1998) Pathophysiology of the neuroregulation of growth hormone secretion in experimental animals and the human. Endocrine Reviews 19: 717–797.

Goffin V, Binart N, Touraine P and Kelly PA (2002) Prolactin: the new biology of an old hormone. Annual Review of Physiology 64: 47–67.

Melmed S (ed.) (2002) The Pituitary. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Science.

Prezant TR and Melmed S (2002) Molecular pathogenesis of pituitary disorders. Current Opinion in Endocrinology and Diabetes 9: 61–78.

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How to Cite close
Murray, Robert D, and Melmed, Shlomo(Apr 2006) The Pituitary. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000065]