Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland

Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland


This lesson will give an overview of the major functions associated with two structures of the endocrine system that are found in the brain: the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

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  • Hypothalamus

    A part of the forebrain that works closely with the pituitary gland to monitor the body's organs and their functioning.

  • Pituitary Gland

    Called the “master gland” because of its effects on other glands; endocrine hormones increase activity/secretion of many major glands of the endocrine system.

  • Posterior Pituitary Gland

    Also called the neurohypophysis, the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland developed from brain tissue during embryonic development and therefore is directly innervated by the hypothalamus. The two hormones the posterior pituitary secretes are anitdiuretic hormone (ADH) and oxytocin.

  • Anterior Pituitary Gland

    Also called the adenohypophysis, the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland started developing in the nasopharynx and migrated up into the skull to join with the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland. Since the anterior pituitary didn’t originate in the brain there are no direct neural connections to it. The anterior pituitary gland secretes six hormones: growth hormone (GH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), prolactin, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).