Which gland of the endocrine and nervous system controls the other glands in the body?
The hypothalamus is a part of the brain just inferior to the thalamus and superior to the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus is responsible for much of the maintenance of homeostasis in the body.
The hypothalamus controls the functions of both the anterior and the posterior pituitary glands. The posterior pituitary gland does not produce its own hormones, but instead receives hormones produced by the hypothalamus and the release of these hormones from the posterior pituitary is controlled by neuron signals from the hypothalamus. The two hormones controlled in this way are anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) and oxytocin.
The anterior pituitary gland, however, does produce its own hormones. Similar to the posterior pituitary, the release of these hormones is controlled by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus secretes releasing and inhibiting hormones that travel through a portal system to the anterior pituitary and either promote or inhibit the release of hormones such as thyroid stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, growth hormone, and prolactin which then travel through the blood to their respective targets, causing addition release of hormones.