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Pituitary gland or Hypophysis
The pituitary gland (means to grow under) is ovoid in shape and is located in the sella turcica, a bony cavity of the sphenoid bone at the base of brain and connected to the hypothalamic region of the brain by a stalk called infundibulum. It is about one centimetre in diameter and 0.5 gm in weight. The pituitary consists of two lobes, anterior glandular adenohypophysis and posterior neural neurohypophysis. The anterior lobe originates from the embryonic invagination of pharyngeal epithelium called Rathke’s pouch and the posterior lobe is originates from the base of the brain as an outgrowth of hypothalamus. Anatomically the adenohypophysis has three lobes or zones namely pars intermedia, pars distalis and pars tuberalis. The neurohypophysis is otherwise known as pars nervosa.
The anterior lobe of pituitary secretes six tropic
hormones such as growth hormone (GH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), adreno
rticotropic hormone (ACTH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH),
luteinizing hormone (LH), luteotropic hormone (LTH) and melanocyte stimulating
hormone (MSH) (in lower animals only). The posterior lobe of pituitary secretes
the hormones namely vasopressin and oxytocin.
(i) Growth hormone (GH): It is also known as somatotropic hormone (STH) or Somatotropin. It is a peptide hormone. Growth hormone promotes growth of all the tissues and metabolic process of the body. It influences the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids and increases the rate of protein biosynthesis in the cells. It stimulates chondrogenesis (cartilage formation), osteogenesis (bone formation) and helps in the retention of minerals like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, sodium etc., in the body. GH increases the release of fatty acid from adipose tissue and decreases the rate of glucose utilization for energy by the cells. Thus it conserves glucose for glucose dependent tissues, such as the brain.
ii) Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) or thyrotropin: TSH is a glycoprotein hormone, which stimulates the thyroid gland to secrete Tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). TSH secretion is regulated by negative feedback mechanism.
It’s release from the anterior pituitary is induced by the thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH). When thyroxine level in the blood increases, TRH acts on both the pituitary and hypothalamus to inhibit TSH secretion.
(iii) Adreno cortico tropic hormone (ACTH): ACTH is a peptide hormone that stimulates the adrenal cortex to secrete glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. It stimulates melanin synthesis in melanocytes, induces the release of fatty acids from adipose tissues and stimulates insulin secretion. ACTH secretion is regulated by negative feedback mechanism.
(iv) Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH): FSH is a glycoprotein hormone which regulates the functions of the gonads (ovary and testis). In males, FSH along with androgens acts on the germinal epithelium of seminiferous tubules and stimulates the production and release of sperms (spermatogenesis). In females, FSH acts on the ovaries and brings about the development and maturation of graffian follicles.
(v) Luteinizing hormone (LH): LH is a glycoprotein hormone which is also known as interstitial cell stimulating hormone (ICSH). In males, ICSH acts on the interstitial cells of testis to produce the male sex hormone, testosterone. In females, LH along with FSH matures the ovarian follicles. LH independently induces ovulation, maintains the corpus luteum and promotes synthesis and release of ovarian hormones. FSH and LH are collectively referred as gonadotropins. FSH and LH are not produced during childhood. The secretion of FSH and LH starts only during pre pubertal period.
(vi) Luteotropic hormone (LTH): LTH is also called luteotropin or lactogenic hormone or prolactin or mammotropin. It is a protein hormone which stimulates milk secretion after the child birth in females. High prolactin secretion during lactation suppresses LH secretion and ovulation since it induces the corpus luteum hence named as luteo tropic hormone.
i. Vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone (ADH) : ADH is a peptide hormone which promotes reabsorption of water and electrolytes by distal tubules of nephron and thereby reduces loss of water through urine. Hence it is called as anti diuretic hormone. It also causes constriction of blood vessels when released in large amount and increases blood pressure. ADH deficiency causes Diabetes insipidus which induces the production of large amount of urine.
ii. Oxytocin (means quick birth): It is a peptide hormone which stimulates vigorous contraction of the smooth muscles of uterus during child birth and ejection of milk from the mammary glands.
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