Hormones of the Hypothalamus and Pituitary

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Last modified 22/03/2015

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Chapter 550 Hormones of the Hypothalamus and Pituitary

The pituitary gland is the major regulator of an elaborate hormonal system. The pituitary gland receives signals from the hypothalamus and responds by sending pituitary hormones to target glands. The target glands produce hormones that provide negative feedback at the level of the hypothalamus and pituitary. This feedback mechanism enables the pituitary to regulate the amount of hormone released into the bloodstream by the target glands. The pituitary’s central role in this hormonal system and its ability to interpret and respond to a variety of signals has led to its designation as the “master gland.”

Anterior Pituitary Cell Types

A series of sequentially expressed transcriptional activation factors directs the differentiation and proliferation of anterior pituitary cell types. These proteins are members of a large family of DNA-binding proteins resembling homeobox genes. The consequences of mutations in several of these genes are evident in human forms of multiple pituitary hormone deficiency. Five cell types in the anterior pituitary produce 6 peptide hormones. Somatotropes produce growth hormone (GH), lactotropes produce prolactin (PRL), thyrotropes make thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), corticotropes express pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), the precursor of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and gonadotropes express luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).