What is the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland?

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are located in the brain, and specifically at the base of the skull, behind the eyes. They form the central unit of coordination of the endocrine system and the stress  response and have specialized cells producing hormones and neurohormones, through which they mediate in the periphery commands, as an answer to various stimulus that they have previously processed. Each cell produces a different hormone that has a specific rate of secretion (rhythm).


What hormones does the pituitary gland produce;

The pituitary gland consists of two parts, the anterior or adenohypophysis, which secretes:

  • Prolactin, responsible for milk production during breastfeeding,
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which regulates thyroid hormone production by the thyroid gland
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) that controls the production of steroid hormones from the adrenal cortex,
  • Growth hormone (GH), responsible for growth, and
  • Gonadotropins (LH, FSH) that regulate reproductive function,

and the posterior or neurohypophysis, secreting:

  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) that regulates the homeostasis of water and sodium, condensing urine and
  • Oxytocin, which promotes childbirth and the descent of milk during breastfeeding.

The pituitary hormones are controlled by the hormones of the hypothalamus.


Hypothalamus-pituitary gland 1

What hormones does the hypothalamus produce;

The hypothalamus produces:

  • Dopamine that inhibits prolactin secretion,
  • Thyrotropin Releasing hormone (TRH), which regulates the secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH),
  • Corticotropin Releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the secretion of the Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and,
  • The growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) that stimulates growth hormone secretion (GH), and,
  • Somatostatin which inhibits the secretion of growth hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone and
  • The gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) that stimulates the secretion of LH and FSH.

What is the function of the Hypothalamus and the pituitary gland;

The hypothalamus, in cooperation with the pituitary gland consist the basic instrument for regulating homeostasis of the organism. To achieve this, the hypothalamus-hypophysis unit is in communication with the rest of the brain and the periphery, as well as the external environment. This communication is covered through the hormonal and nervous system.