The pituitary gland is an endocrine gland (endocrine refers to internal secretion) located in the skull in an excavation sphenoid bone of the body known as the "sella turcica" (the definition "sella turcica" refers to a well-defined depression ranging back from the edge of the visible part of the upper face of the sphenoid bone, reminiscent of the seat of the Ottoman cavalry, hence the name).
The pituitary gland is frequently referred to as the “master gland” of the human body because it regulates many activities of the endocrine glands. The hypothalamus is located just above the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus is responsible for determining which hormones should be released by the pituitary by sending hormonal or electrical messages to the pituitary gland.
What is the pituitary gland?
The pituitary gland is small in size and its weight is slightly greater than half a gram. In addition, the pituitary gland is the most important endocrine gland of the human body: the hormones it secretes in fact stimulate the activity of other glands responsible for internal secretion such as the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands, which are essential for performance of various activities of the human body.
The pituitary gland is formed by two portions: the neurohypophysis or posterior hypophysis (pars nervosa, or infundibular process) derived from the hypothalamus, and the adenohypophysis (also called prehypophysis or anterior pituitary), derived from the epithelium of the vault of the oral cavity and divided into a narrower, tube-like portion, rich in capillaries located in a distal part (prevailing) and in an intermediate part.
The intermediate part of the adenohypophysis is constituted of only one type of cells whose task is to produce the hormone melanotropin (MSH); the tuberous part and especially the distal part contain different types of cells involved in the secretion of many hormones whose role is to regulate the different functions of the genitourinary system, and increase the metabolism (growth hormone or GH, adenocirticocotropo hormone or ACTH, LTH , luteinizing hormone, or LH, FSH or follicle stimulating hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH). The production of hormones by the adenohypophysis and their entering into the bloodstream is controlled by specific releasing factors produced by the hypothalamus.
The neurohypophysis is an important station of the neuroendocrine system that controls many body functions: it acts as a reservoir for the antidiuretic hormone, whose job is to inhibit the diuresis, and oxytocin, the hormone responsible for determining the contractions of the uterus when it is ready to expel the fetus.
The pituitary gland is connected to the hypothalamus through the pituitary peduncle, which in turn forms the hypothalamic-pituitary axis system.
What function does the pituitary gland serve?
The pituitary gland is the largest endocrine gland in the human body: the hormones secreted from it, in fact, stimulate the activity of other endocrine glands that are essential for conducting various activities of the body. The secretory product of the other endocrine glands exerts, in turn, an inhibiting action on the production of hormones from the pituitary, giving rise to a virtuous balance.