Disorders Affecting the Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland is sometimes called the master gland of the endocrine system, because it controls the functions of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland is no larger than a pea, located at the base of the brain. The gland is attached to the hypothalamus (a part of the brain that affects the pituitary gland) by nerve fibers. The pituitary gland itself consists of three sections, which each produce certain hormones:

  • anterior (front) lobe - produces growth hormone, prolactin (to stimulate milk production after giving birth), ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), and LH (luteinizing hormone).
  • intermediate lobe - produces melanocyte-stimulating hormone (controls skin pigmentation).
  • posterior (back) lobe - produces ADH (antidiuretic hormone) and oxytocin (to contract the uterus during childbirth and stimulate milk production).

The pituitary gland is complex in that it affects many parts of the body with many different hormones. Oversecretion or undersecretion of one or more of those hormones can have a wide variety of health effects.

Disorders affecting the pituitary gland require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional. Listed in the directory below are some disorders that affect the pituitary gland, for which we have provided a brief overview.

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