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Anatomy Of The Pituitary Gland

Unveiling the hidden secrets of the pituitary gland and its crucial role in regulating our body's functions, this comprehensive article explores its anatomy and offers a fascinating insight into its intricate workings.

Anatomy of the Pituitary Gland


The pituitary gland, also known as the "master gland," plays a crucial role in regulating various hormonal functions in the human body. This article provides an in-depth exploration of the anatomy of the pituitary gland, highlighting its structure, location, blood supply, and major hormones secreted by its different regions.

Structure of the Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland is a small, pea-sized organ located at the base of the brain within a bony depression called the sella turcica. It is divided into two main parts:

  1. Anterior Pituitary (Adenohypophysis): This larger front portion constitutes about 75% of the total mass of the pituitary gland. It consists of three distinct regions, each responsible for secreting specific hormones:

    • Pars Distalis: The largest portion of the anterior pituitary, it secretes several important hormones, including growth hormone (GH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and prolactin.
    • Pars Intermedia: A thin layer of cells that secretes melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), which plays a role in skin pigmentation.
    • Pars Tuberalis: A narrow strip of cells that wraps around the infundibulum (pituitary stalk).
  2. Posterior Pituitary (Neurohypophysis): This smaller rear portion is composed of neural tissue and does not synthesize hormones. Instead, it stores and releases two hormones produced by the hypothalamus:

    • Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH or Vasopressin): ADH regulates water balance in the body, acting on the kidneys to increase water reabsorption.
    • Oxytocin: Oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions during childbirth and facilitates milk ejection during breastfeeding.

Blood Supply

The pituitary gland receives its blood supply from two major sources:

  1. Superior Hypophyseal Artery: Arising from the cavernous segment of the internal carotid artery, the superior hypophyseal artery supplies blood to the median eminence, infundibulum, and the hypothalamus.
  2. Inferior Hypophyseal Artery: This branch of the internal carotid artery provides blood to the posterior pituitary.

Additionally, a capillary network called the hypophyseal portal system allows communication between the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary. It transports releasing and inhibiting hormones from the hypothalamus to the anterior pituitary, regulating hormone secretion.

Major Hormones Secreted by the Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland secretes several important hormones, each with specific functions and targets:

  1. Anterior Pituitary Hormones:

    • Growth Hormone (GH): Stimulates growth, protein synthesis, and lipid metabolism.
    • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH): Stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol and other glucocorticoids.
    • Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH): Promotes the synthesis and release of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) from the thyroid gland.
    • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): In females, FSH stimulates ovarian follicle development; in males, it promotes sperm production.
    • Luteinizing Hormone (LH): In females, LH triggers ovulation and stimulates progesterone synthesis; in males, it stimulates testosterone production.
    • Prolactin: Stimulates milk production in breastfeeding women.
  2. Posterior Pituitary Hormones:

    • Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH or Vasopressin): Regulates water balance by increasing water reabsorption in the kidneys.
    • Oxytocin: Stimulates uterine contractions during childbirth and promotes milk ejection during breastfeeding.


Understanding the anatomy of the pituitary gland is essential for comprehending its role in hormone regulation. The gland's distinct regions, blood supply, and the hormones it secretes contribute to the intricate balance necessary for maintaining various bodily functions. By grasping the complexities of the pituitary gland, healthcare professionals can better diagnose and treat disorders related to hormonal imbalances.

*Note: This informative USMLE guide provides an overview of the article entitled "Anatomy of the Pituitary Gland" and does not cover all aspects or details

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