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Pituitary Gland - Location, Parts, and Functions

Published on Sep 30, 2022   -  4 min read


The pituitary gland is the master endocrine gland located at the base of the brain. Read this article to know more about it.

What Is a Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary gland is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland roughly weighs 0.5 grams in humans, about half-inch in diameter. There is a discrepancy in the pituitary gland size in men and women. During pregnancy, the size of the pituitary gland doubles. The pituitary gland is also known as the “master gland” because it controls the functioning of several other endocrine glands. For example, a stalk of nerves and blood vessels attaches the pituitary gland to the hypothalamus (another endocrine gland). The pituitary gland is responsible for several vital functions in our body.

What Are the Different Parts of the Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary gland is divided into two lobes, and both of these lobes contain different types of cells that produce various kinds of hormones. The two lobes of the pituitary gland and their functions are mentioned below:

  1. Anterior Lobe: This lobe is classified into pars tuberalis and pars distalis. The anterior lobe constitutes eighty percent of the pituitary gland. There are primarily five types of cells in the anterior lobe; somatotropes, corticotrophs, thyrotropes, gonadotropes, and lactotrophs. The names and functions of the hormones produced by the anterior lobe are:

  2. Posterior Lobe: This lobe of the pituitary gland is smaller in size, and it develops as an extension of the hypothalamus. The posterior pituitary lobe also secretes hormones like the anterior lobe; however, these hormones are synthesized in the hypothalamus. They are stored in the posterior lobe until they are released. The hormones and functions of the hormones produced by the posterior lobe are


What Is the Location of Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain, and it rests upon the hypophyseal fossa of the sphenoid bone in the center of the middle cranial fossa. The pituitary gland sits in the sella turcica, a bony hollow in the base of the skull behind the nose. There are a lot of essential structures present around the pituitary gland; for example, nerves that control the sense of smell are present on the side of the gland. On top of the pituitary gland, the nerve controlling the vision is present. The pituitary gland is typically nestled between the brain’s temporal lobes. The gland is connected to the rest of the brain with the help of a stem known as the pituitary stalk (that sends the electrical impulses in the hormones down to the pituitary gland). The gland has several anatomical relations:

What Is the Location of Anterior Pituitary Gland?

The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland is also known as the adenohypophysis, and it is one of the two lobes of the pituitary gland. It is present in the sella turcica and controlled by the hypothalamus. The anterior lobe is derived from Rathke’s pouch.

What Is the Location of Posterior Pituitary Gland?

The posterior lobe of the pituitary is present near the hypothalamus because it develops as an extension of the hypothalamus from the floor of the third ventricle. The posterior lobe of the pituitary gland primarily consists of nerve tissues.

What Are the Functions of Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary gland is often called the “master gland” because it controls other major endocrine glands and regulates the release of hormones from these glands. The pituitary gland senses the body’s needs and sends signals to the other glands and organs throughout the body to regulate their functioning and maintain an optimum environment. There are multiple hormones produced and released by the two lobes of the pituitary gland. Hormones secreted from the pituitary are responsible for the following:

  1. Growth and development.

  2. Regulates blood pressure.

  3. Energy management.

  4. All functioning of the sex organs.

  5. Functioning of the thyroid gland.

  6. Metabolism.

  7. Temperature regulation.

  8. Pain relief.

  9. Functioning of the kidneys.

  10. Many aspects of pregnancy and breastfeeding.

What Are the Disorders of the Pituitary Gland?

Several disorders affect the pituitary gland, which hampers the release of hormones from the various endocrine glands. The pituitary gland's disorders are as follows:

  • Pituitary Tumors: These tumors are mostly noncancerous, but they become a problem for hormone release from the gland. These tumors can also press against the surrounding nerves and vessels, leading to various problems such as vision impairment, headaches, etc.

  • Hypopituitarism: This is a serious condition where the pituitary gland produces very little or no hormone (one or more hormones). This disorder can affect growth, development, reproduction, etc.

  • Acromegaly: This condition is characterized by overproduction of the pituitary hormones leading to excessive growth, especially in hands and feet.

  • Diabetes Insipidus: Diabetes insipidus occurs when there is a problem with releasing vasopressin hormone which is secreted by the posterior pituitary lobe.

  • Cushing’s Disease: The pituitary gland over-releases the adrenocorticotropic hormone. This disorder is often caused by a tumor in or around the pituitary gland.

  • Hyperprolactinemia: In this condition, too much prolactin is released into the blood leading to infertility in women and decreased sex drive in men.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury: Sudden injury to the brain can damage the pituitary gland resulting in problems regarding memory, communication, and behavior.


The pituitary gland is the pea-sized endocrine gland that is also known as the master endocrine gland. Although it is very small in size, it regulates the hormonal balance in the whole body, and it even controls the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland is divided into anterior and posterior lobes, and both of these lobes secrete different hormones. It is located at the base of the skull, behind the nose bridge, and nestled between the two temporal lobes. The pituitary gland's location is very important because it is surrounded by several vital nerves, vessels, and structures. Any disorder of the pituitary gland can destroy its surrounding structures, which can lead to some severe complications. In addition, any dysfunctioning of the pituitary gland can have a harmful effect on the individual’s growth, development, metabolism, and reproductive health.

Last reviewed at:
30 Sep 2022  -  4 min read




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