The pituitary gland is often referred to as the "master gland" of the body, since it regulates many activities of other endocrine glands. Located above the pituitary gland is the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus decides which hormones the pituitary should release by sending it either hormonal or electrical messages.
In response to hormonal messages from the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland releases the following hormones:GH (growth hormone) - increases size of muscle and boneTHS (thyroid stimulating hormone) - stimulates the thyroid gland to release T3 and T4 to stimulate metabolism in other cells throughout the bodyFSH (follicle stimulating hormone) - stimulates ovarian follicle production in women; stimulates sperm production in menLH (luteinizing hormone) - stimulates ovaries to produce estrogen in women; stimulates sperm production in menProlactin - stimulates breast tissue in nursing mothers to produce milkACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) - causes the adrenal glands to produce important substances that have properties similar to steroids
In response to electrical messages from the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland releases the following hormones:ADH (antidiuretic hormone) - stimulates the kidneys to reabsorb fluid and produce less urineOxytocin - initiates labor, uterine contractions and milk ejection in mothers
Review Date: 10/28/2015
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.