Pituitary gland hormones made simple

academics biology College MCAT premed

What is the pituitary gland?

Even though the pituitary gland is about the size of a pea, it plays a very important role in regulating a lot of our body’s endocrine functions. Located in an area known as the sella turcica at the base of the brain and suspended from the hypothalamus by a stalk, the pituitary gland consists of two parts: the anterior/front lobe (which accounts for the majority of the pituitary gland’s weight), and the posterior/back lobe.

Development of the Pituitary Gland

Even though the anterior and posterior lobes make up the pituitary gland, their origins are different. Early on in gestation, a part of oral ectoderm invaginates and forms a protrusion called Rathke’s pouch, which eventually develops into the anterior pituitary. On the other hand, a portion of the developing hypothalamus evaginates outward to form an extension that will become the posterior pituitary. This explains why the anterior pituitary makes and secretes its own hormones under the influence of the hypothalamus’ releasing hormones, whereas the posterior pituitary hormones are actually synthesized in the cell bodies of the hypothalamus, and are eventually stored in the posterior pituitary for release.

X 2
 

Pituitary Gland Hormones

To understand the vital role that the pituitary gland plays in our overall well-being, we must understand the hormones that it makes and secretes, and what effects these hormones have on their respective target organs. Although there are quite a few hormones involved, there is a simple mnemonic that can help you identify the hormones secreted by each lobe of the pituitary gland on test day!

For the anterior pituitary lobe, think FLAT PEG for the following hormones:

FSH — Follicle Stimulating Hormone, which promotes ovarian follicle development, estrogen secretion in females, and spermatogenesis in the Sertoli cells of the testes

LH — Luteinizing Hormone. Which promotes ovarian follicle maturation, progesterone release, and androgen release from Leydig cells in the testes

ACTH — Adrenal Corticotropic Hormone, which stimulates the adrenal gland to secrete hormones like cortisol, aldosterone, and androgens

TSH — Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which promotes thyroid hormone production and secretion

Prolactin — which promotes milk secretion

Endorphins — often triggered by exercise, endorphins play a major role in the body’s inhibitory response to pain and can also lead to feelings of euphoria

GH — Growth Hormone, which stimulates production of a molecule called IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1) by the liver to lead to long bone growth

The posterior pituitary, on the other hand, only secretes the following two hormones:

ADH — Antidiuretic Hormone (also called Vasopressin), which helps our kidneys manage the amount of water in our body to regulate blood pressure and volume

Oxytocin — a hormone that plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction and childbirth

Quick Recap

In summary, understanding the origins of the two lobes of the pituitary gland can help you differentiate between the anterior lobe, which makes and secretes its own hormones (think: FLAT PEG!), and the posterior lobe, which receives hormones made by the hypothalamus and stores them until it is signaled to release them (ADH, oxytocin).

Comments

topicTopics
academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT expository writing college admissions English MD/PhD admissions GRE GMAT LSAT chemistry strategy writing math physics ACT biology language learning test anxiety graduate admissions law school admissions MBA admissions interview prep homework help creative writing AP exams MD academic advice career advice study schedules summer activities history personal statements premed philosophy secondary applications Common Application computer science test prep organic chemistry supplements PSAT admissions coaching economics grammar ESL law statistics & probability psychology SSAT covid-19 legal studies reading comprehension 1L CARS logic games Spanish USMLE calculus dental admissions engineering parents research Latin verbal reasoning DAT excel mathematics political science French Linguistics Tutoring Approaches chinese DO MBA coursework Social Advocacy academic integrity biochemistry case coaching classics diversity statement genetics geometry kinematics medical school mental health quantitative reasoning skills IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs PhD admissions algebra astrophysics athletics business business skills careers data science internships letters of recommendation mentorship social sciences software engineering tech industry trigonometry work and activities 2L 3L AMCAS Academic Interest Anki EMT English literature FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Italian MD vs PhD Montessori Pythagorean Theorem STEM Sentence Correction TMDSAS Zoom admissions advice algorithms amino acids analysis essay architecture argumentative writing art history artificial intelligence cantonese capacitors capital markets cell biology central limit theorem chemical engineering chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience cold emails community service constitutional law cover letters curriculum dental school distance learning enrichment european history executive function finance first generation student fun facts functions gap year harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles information sessions institutional actions integrated reasoning intern international students investing investment banking logic mandarin chinese mba mechanical engineering meiosis mitosis music music theory neurology operating systems pedagogy phrase structure rules plagiarism poetry pre-dental presentations proofs pseudocode resume school selection science simple linear regression sociology software study abroad synthesis teaching technical interviews time management transfer typology units virtual interviews writing circles