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The endocrine glands, or ductless glands, discharge their secretions (hormones) directly into the blood; they include the adrenal, pituitary, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, the islands of Langerhans in the pancreas, the gonads, the thymus, and the pineal body. The exocrine glands discharge through ducts opening on an external or internal surface of the body; they include the salivary, sebaceous, and sweat glands, the liver, the gastric glands, the pancreas, the intestinal, mammary, and lacrimal glands, and the prostate. The lymph nodes are sometimes called lymph glands but are not glands in the usual sense.
The adenohypophysis originates from epithelial tissue. The adenohypophysis secretes six important hormones: growth hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone or thyrotropin, adrenocorticotropic hormone or corticotropin, prolactin, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone. Most of these hormones are tropic hormones, which regulate the growth, development, and proper functioning of other endocrine glands and are of vital importance to the growth, maturation, and reproduction of the individual. Secretion of the anterior pituitary hormones is controlled by releasing and inhibiting hormones produced by the hypothalamus. Information gathered by the nervous system about the well-being of an individual is collected in the hypothalamus and used to control the secretion of hormones by the pituitary gland. The hypothalamic releasing and inhibiting hormones are transported to the pituitary gland by way of the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal system in which the hypothalamic venules connect with the capillaries of the anterior pituitary.
The neurohypophysis originates from neural tissue; it stores and secretes two hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone). These hormones are synthesized in the cell bodies of neurons located in the hypothalamus and transported along the axons to the terminals located in the neurohypophysis and are released in response to neural stimulation.
Surgical removal of part or all of the pituitary gland is called hypophysectomy and is usually done for treatment of a pituitary tumor. Because of its influence on the adrenal cortex and other endocrine glands, removal of the pituitary gland has widespread effects on the body. See hypophysectomy.
See also: hypothalamus
Synonym(s): pituitary gland.
The pituitary is an endocrine gland secreting a number of hormones that regulate many bodily processes including growth, reproduction, and other metabolic activities. It is often referred to as the “master gland of the body.”
Hormones are secreted in the following lobes: Intermediate lobe: In cold-blooded animals, intermedin is secreted, influencing the activity of pigment cells (chromatophores) of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. In warm-blooded animals, no effects are known.
Anterior lobe: Secretions here are the somatotropic, or growth hormone (STH or GH), which regulates cell division and protein synthesis for growth; adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which regulates functional activity of the adrenal cortex; thyrotropic hormone (TTH or TSH), which regulates functional activity of the thyroid gland; and prolactin, also called lactogenic hormone, which induces secretion of milk in the adult female. The gonadotropic hormones are as follows: in women, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates development of ovarian follicles and their secretion of estrogen; in men, it stimulates spermatogenesis in the testes. In women, luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulates ovulation and formation of the corpus luteum and its secretion of estrogen and progesterone. In men, LH also called interstitial cell-stimulation hormone (ICSH), stimulates testosterone secretion.
Posterior lobe: Hormones are secreted by the neurosecretory cells of the hypothalamus and pass through fibers of the supraopticohypophyseal tracts in the infundibular stalk to the neurohypophysis, where they are stored. Secretions here are oxytocin, which acts specifically on smooth muscle of the uterus, increasing tone and contractility, and antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which increases reabsorption of water by the kidney tubules. In large amounts, ADH also causes vasoconstriction, and is also called vasopressin.
Hypersecretion of anterior lobe causes gigantism, acromegaly, and pituitary basophilism (Cushing disease). Hyposecretion of anterior lobe causes dwarfism, pituitary cachexia (Simmonds disease), Sheehan syndrome, acromicria, eunuchoidism, or hypogonadism. Posterior lobe deficiency or hypothalamic lesion causes diabetes insipidus. Anterior and posterior lobe deficiency and hypothalamic lesion cause Fröhlich syndrome (adiposogenital dystrophy) and pituitary obesity.
pituitary glandThe central controlling gland in the ENDOCRINE system. The pituitary is a pea-sized gland that hangs by a stalk from the underside of the brain and rests in a central bony hollow on the floor of the skull. The pituitary stalk emerges immediately under the HYPOTHALAMUS and there are numerous connections, both nervous and hormonal, between the hypothalamus and the gland. The pituitary releases many hormones that regulate and control the activities of other endocrine glands as well as many body processes. Hormonal feedback information from the various endocrine glands to the hypothalamus and the pituitary ensures that the pituitary is able to perform its control function effectively. See also ADRENOCORTICOTROPIC HORMONE, ANTIDIURETIC HORMONE, FOLLICLE-STIMULATING HORMONE, LUTEINIZING HORMONE, MELANOCYTE-STIMULATING HORMONE, OXYTOCIN, PROLACTIN, and THYROID-STIMULATING HORMONE,
pituitary glandendocrine gland at the base of the brain, attached by the pituitary stalk carrying blood vessels and nerve fibres from the hypothalamus. See also anterior pituitary, posterior pituitary.
pi·tu·i·tar·y gland(pi-tū'i-tar-ē gland) [TA]
Synonym(s): hypophysis [TA] .