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Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland is an endocrine gland in the small, bony cavity at the base of the brain. It is connected to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It secretes hormones regulating a wide variety of bodily activities, including trophic hormones that stimulate other endocrine glands. For a while, this led scientists to call it the master gland, but now we know that it is in fact regulated by releasing hormones from the hypothalamus.

The pituitary gland is divided into two sections: the anterior lobe of the pituitary (adenohypophysis) and the posterior lobe of the pituitary (neurohypophysis). The posterior pituitary is, in effect, a projection of the hypothalamus. It does not produce its own hormones, but only stores and releases the hormones oxytocin and antidiuretic hormone (ADH).

The anterior pituitary secretes growth hormone, prolactin, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, melanocyte-stimulating hormone, endorphins and other hormones.

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