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Pituitary Hormones and Functions

The pituitary is a small gland located below the brain, right at the skull base in a specific area which is medicinally referred to as sella turcica or pituitary fossa. It weighs less than one gram and it visually resembles a bean. Sometimes it is also referred to as the master gland because it is in charge of regulating the secretion of all different types of hormones inside the human body. The pituitary gland has a larger frontal region which is medicinally referred to as adenohypophysis and a smaller posterior region which is medicinally referred to as neurohypophysis. The pituitary stalk connects the pituitary gland to the region of the brain medicinally referred to as the hypothalamus. Between the pituitary stalk and the pituitary gland are the crossing fibers of the optic nerves which are medicinally summed up as the optic chiasm. Each side of the pituitary gland has its own cavernous sinus, and each one of them has a carotid artery running through it and carrying blood to the brain. Cavernous sinuses also have certain important nerves running through them, which are in charge of controlling the movement of the eyes. As already explained, the pituitary gland is located very closely to various major intracranial blood vessels and nerves and it controls the hormones, so it can be associated with a large number of neurological and hormonal symptoms of different disorders. Certain medical conditions related to the pituitary gland may lead to an increased production of different hormones inside the human body. There are also other disorders of the pituitary gland which may occur, but they are usually not associated with increased production of the hormones. It is only in the cases of enlarged tumors that the additional pressure on the pituitary gland may trigger a reduction or a complete absence of the production of certain or all hormones inside the human body. The list of medical conditions which may affect the pituitary gland includes lymphocytic hypophysitis, epidermoid tumor, Rathke’s cleft cyst, craniopharyngioma, meningioma, pituitary apoplexy, recurrent adenomas, endocrine inactive adenomas, thyrotroph secreting adenomas, prolactinoma, Nelson’s syndrome, Cushing’s disease, acromegaly, different sorts of pituitary adenomas and pituitary failure.

Hormones Produced by the Pituitary Gland

In order to understand the importance of the pituitary gland and the way it functions, one needs to be well informed about the role each hormone in the human body plays. All the different functions may be seriously compromised by a tumor on the pituitary gland. One of the hormones controlled by the pituitary gland is the follicle stimulating hormone which is in charge of the promotion of normal functioning of the testes and the ovaries, regulating the normal production of sperm and controlling the ovulation in both women and men. It commonly works together with the luteinizing hormone. This other type of hormone is in charge of controlling the levels of testosterone in the testes and controlling the levels of estrogen in the ovaries. Vaopressin or the antidiuretic hormone is in charge of regulating the balance of all the water inside the human body. Improper amounts of this type of hormone in the human body lead to the development of certain medical conditions which affect the kidneys such as the inappropriate ADH syndrome and diabetes insipidus. Another important hormone is the thyroid-stimulating hormone and it is in charge of governing various vital systems and processes such as the nervous system, metabolism, growth and energy. Varied levels of this type of hormone may lead to problems such as an overactive thyroid or an underactive thyroid. Another important type of hormone is known as adrenocorticotropin. This type of hormone is in charge of stimulating the production of another type of hormone known as cortisol or the stress hormone. This other type of hormone is commonly produced by the adrenal glands and is in charge of maintaining optimal blood pressure and proper levels of glucose in the blood. Growth hormone is one of the most important hormones in the human body and it is in charge of promoting growth in children. If a child suffers from excessive amounts of the growth hormone, he or she commonly suffers from a medical condition known as the gigantism or acromegaly. Adult persons use this type of hormone for completely different purposes as it comes very handy when it comes to regulating the distribution of ft and maintaining the mass of bones and muscles. Last, but not least, prolactin is a certain type of hormone which is in charge of stimulating the production of breast milk after the childbirth and regulating the levels of sex hormones in both women and men.

How tumors affect production of hormones?

There are two types of pituitary gland tumors and those are the secretory and non secretory. A secretory type increases the production of the hormones while the other does not until it reaches certain size where it actually reduces the production of hormones. Tumors may trigger hypersecretion, hyposecretion and tumor mass effects.

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