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Definition of PITUITARY GLAND
: a small oval endocrine organ that is attached to the infundibulum of the brain, consists of an epithelial anterior lobe joined by an intermediate part to a posterior lobe of nervous origin, and produces various internal secretions directly or indirectly impinging on most basic body functions —called also hypophysis, pituitary body — see brain illustration
: a small oval reddish gray very vascular endocrine organ that is attached to the infundibulum of the brain and occupies the sella turcica, that is present in all craniate vertebrates, that consists essentially of an epithelial anterior lobe derived from a diverticulum of the oral cavity and joined to a posterior lobe of nervous origin by a pars intermedia, and that has the several parts associated with various hormones which directly or indirectly affect most basic bodily functions and include substances exerting a controlling and regulating influence on other endocrine organs, controlling growth and development, or modifying the contraction of smooth muscle, renal function, and reproduction—called also hypophysis, pituitary body; see adenohypophysis, neurohypophysis
Illustration of PITUITARY GLAND
Endocrine gland lying on the underside of the brain that plays a major role in regulating the endocrine system. The anterior pituitary lobe secretes six hormones that play specific roles in stimulating production of cortisol and androgens by the adrenal cortex (corticotropin), growth of eggs and sperm (follicle-stimulating hormone), production of progesterone and testosterone (luteinizing hormone), linear growth in children and bone maintenance in adults (growth hormone), milk production (prolactin), and production of thyroid hormone (thyrotropin). The posterior lobe stores and releases two hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, from nerve cells in specialized regions of the hypothalamus that control pituitary function. These hormones stimulate uterine contraction and milk secretion (oxytocin) and blood pressure and fluid balance (vasopressin).