The pituitary also referred to, as the master gland of the body is a double lobed endocrine gland. The pituitary gland secretes several hormones, which regulate bodily processes, including growth, reproduction and numerous metabolic activities. It is located in a cavity of the sphenoid bone, below the hypothalamus, at the base of the brain. The lobes of the pituitary are as distinct in function as they are in position and tissue type. The posterior lobe is made up of an out growth of neural tissue from the hypothalamus and is responsible for the release of oxytocin and vasopressin. The anterior lobe, which sits towards the front of the head, is a non-neural tissue responsible for the release of eight hormones. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), growth hormone (GH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), beta-lipotropin and beta-endorphin are all secreted by the anterior pituitary. Hypophysiotropic hormones of the hypothalamus stimulate the majority of the hormones produced by the anterior pituitary.
To demonstrate how an endocrine gland might function, we will focus on the non steroid growth hormone (GH) and its pathway. The hypothalamus, upon stimulus by factors such as stress, nutrient levels, exercise, sleep, and neurotransmitters, produces a