Which gland in the endocrine system serves to control and regulate the other glands?
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The most important and influential gland in the human body is the Pituitary gland. This is because it performs the most complex and vital function of regulating the secretions of other glands in the Endocrine system of the body.
Pituitary immediately senses the body requirements and sends chemical messengers that act on the other glands in the body and triggers them to secrete hormones. Pituitary, because of this, is also sometimes referred to as the “Master Gland”.
Pituitary is located in a saddle shaped depression at the base of the human skull (known as Sella turcica). It can be divided into two parts: anterior pituitary and posterior pituitary.
The principle hormones secreted by the anterior Pituitary gland are:
- Growth Hormone (GH): It is also called as the Human Growth Hormone (HGH). It is vital in the body growth, metabolism and development during childhood. In adults, it maintains healthy muscles and bones.
- Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH): It plays a role in regulation of the hormone called cortisol, which is secreted by the adrenal gland.
- Gonadotropic Hormones: They are Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). FSH and LH regulate sex hormones and production of sex cells.
- Luteotropic Hormone (LTH). Also called as Prolactin, LTH regulates milk production in lactating mothers after pregnancy.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone/TSH: Aso called as thyrotropin, it controls the secretions of thyroid gland.
The posterior part of the Pituitary gland also stores the Antidiuretic Hormone/ADH and Oxytocin that are actually secreted by the hypothalamus gland. ADH maintains water balance in the body and Oxytocin helps in Uterus contraction during child birth. Upon these requirements, these hormones get released into the blood stream by the Pituitary gland.
Thus we see that Pituitary has a very critical role to play in controlling many activities of the other Endocrine glands in the body.
The endocrine system contains several glands that release hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones are responsible for regulating and stabilizing the body, and for triggering reactions to various stimuli. The most important gland is the pituitary gland, or hypophysis, which monitors and affects many of the other glands. The pituitary directly affects the hormone production of other glands, making it essential for proper and healthy endocrine function. Among other things, the pituitary produces growth hormone, which is essential for healthy body formation during childhood; correctly limiting the production of growth hormone is also essential for avoiding gigantism, which can cause major health problems in adults. The pituitary also regulates sexual hormones, such as lutienizing and follicle-stimulating, allowing healthy function of the sexual organs in men and women. One of the most important functions of the pituitary is the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone, which helps the thyroid in its regulation of the nervous system and metabolism. With synthetic hormone replacement, it is possible, although difficult, to live without the pituitary gland.
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