Pituitary: Wikis

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Pituitary gland
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Located at the base of the brain, the pituitary gland is protected by a bony structure called the sella turcica (also known as turkish saddle) of the sphenoid bone.
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Median sagittal through the hypophysis of an adult monkey. Semidiagrammatic.
Latin hypophysis, glandula pituitaria
Gray's subject #275 1275
Artery superior hypophyseal artery, infundibular artery, prechiasmal artery, inferior hypophyseal artery, capsular artery, artery of the inferior cavernous sinus[1]
Precursor neural and oral ectoderm, including Rathke's pouch
MeSH Pituitary+Gland
Dorlands/Elsevier Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighing 0.5 g (0.02 oz.). It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain, and rests in a small, bony cavity (sella turcica) covered by a dural fold (diaphragma sellae). The pituitary fossa, in which the pituitary gland sits, is situated in the sphenoid bone in the middle cranial fossa at the base of the brain. It is considered a master gland. The pituitary gland secretes hormones regulating homeostasis, including tropic hormones that stimulate other endocrine glands. It is functionally connected to the hypothalamus by the median eminence.

Contents

Sections

Located at the base of the brain, the pituitary is composed of two lobes: the anterior pituitary (adenohypophysis) and the posterior pituitary (neurohypophysis). The pituitary is functionally linked to the hypothalamus by the pituitary stalk, whereby hypothalamic releasing factors are released and, in turn, stimulate the release of pituitary hormones. Although the pituitary gland is known as the master endocrine gland, both of its lobes are under the control of the hypothalamus.

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Anterior pituitary (Adenohypophysis)

The anterior pituitary synthesizes and secretes important endocrine hormones, such as ACTH, TSH, PRL, GH, endorphins, FSH, and LH. These hormones are released from the anterior pituitary under the influence of the hypothalamus. Hypothalamic hormones are secreted to the anterior lobe by way of a special capillary system, called the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal system. The anterior pituitary is divided into anatomical regions known as the pars tuberalis, pars intermedia, and pars distalis. It develops from a depression in the dorsal wall of the pharynx (stomodial part) known as Rathke's pouch.

Posterior pituitary (Neurohypophysis)

The posterior pituitary stores and releases:

Oxytocin is one of the few hormones to create a positive feedback loop. For example, uterine contractions stimulate the release of oxytocin from the posterior pituitary, which, in turn, increases uterine contractions. This positive feedback loop continues throughout labor.

Intermediate lobe

There is also an intermediate lobe in many animals. For instance, in fish, it is believed to control physiological color change. In adult humans, it is just a thin layer of cells between the anterior and posterior pituitary. The intermediate lobe produces melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), although this function is often (imprecisely) attributed to the anterior pituitary.

Variations among vertebrates

The pituitary gland is found in all vertebrates, but its structure varies between different groups.

The division of the pituitary described above is typical of mammals, and is also true, to varying degrees, of all tetrapods. However, only in mammals does the posterior pituitary have a compact shape. In lungfishes it is a relatively flat sheet of tissue lying above the anterior pituitary, and in amphibians, reptiles and birds, it becomes increasingly well developed. The intermediate lobe is generally not well developed in tetrapods, and is entirely absent in birds.[2]

Apart from lungfishes, the structure of the pituitary in fish is generally different from that in tetrapods. In general, the intermediate lobe tends to be well developed, and may equal the remainder of the anterior pituitary in size. The posterior lobe typically forms a sheet of tissue at the base of the pituitary stalk, and in most cases sends irregular finger-like projection into the tissue of the anterior pituitary, which lies directly beneath it. The anterior pituitary is typically divided into two regions, a more anterior rostral portion and a posterior proximal portion, but the boundary between the two is often not clearly marked. In elasmobranchs there is an additional, ventral lobe beneath the anterior pituitary proper.[2]

The arrangement in lampreys, which are amongst the most primitive of all fish, may indicate how the pituitary originally evolved in ancestral vertebrates. Here, the posterior pituitary is a simple flat sheet of tissue at the base of the brain, and there is no pituitary stalk. Rathke's pouch remains open to the outside, close to the nasal openings. Closely associated with the pouch are three distinct clusters of glandular tissue, corresponding to the intermediate lobe, and the rostral and proximal portions of the anterior pituitary. These various parts are separated by meningial membranes, suggesting that the pituitary of other vertebrates may have formed from the fusion of a number of separate, but closely associated, glands.[2]

Most fish also possess a urophysis, a neural secretory gland very similar in form to the posterior pituitary, but located in the tail and associated with the spinal cord. This may have a function in osmoregulation.[2]

Functions

The pituitary hormones help control some of the following body processes:

Additional images

See also

References

  1. ^ Gibo H, Hokama M, Kyoshima K, Kobayashi S (1993). "[Arteries to the pituitary]". Nippon Rinsho 51 (10): 2550–4. PMID 8254920. 
  2. ^ a b c d Romer, Alfred Sherwood; Parsons, Thomas S. (1977). The Vertebrate Body. Philadelphia, PA: Holt-Saunders International. pp. 549-550. ISBN 0-03-910284-X. 

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