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The pituitary gland has two components, the
adenohypophysis and the neurohypophysis.
The adenohypophysis synthesizes and secretes a number of hormones, most of which
other endocrine glands, e.g. adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) stimulates
adrenal cortex to
produce cortisone, and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulates thyroid to
The neurohypophysis is in direct continuity with the hypothalamus, storing and
antidiuretic hormone (ADH) and oxytocin synthesized in the neurons of the
Many of the functions of the pituitary gland are controlled by neural and
from the hypothalamus, diseases of which cause secondary abnormalities in
Reduced output of anterior pituitary hormones is termed panhypopituitarism.
Diseases of the neurohypophysis are very rare
The most common and important diseases of the pituitary gland are tumours of the
adenohypophysis (pituitary adenomata)
Pituitary adenomata, although benign in that they do not metastasize, can be
by virtue of their position and ability to secrete excess hormone.
Non-functioning adenomata progressively enlarge until they break out of the
in an upwards direction, often compressing the optic chiasma. This produces a
visual disturbance known as bitemporal hemianopia
The tumour may destroy the normal functioning adeno-hypophysis,
producing symptoms and signs of hypopituitarism.
Functioning adenomata may, in theory, produce any of the adenohypophyseal
hormones, but the majority produce either prolactin or growth hormone; a few
In general, functioning pituitary tumours present earlier than the
variety, and may be very small, despite producing significant metabolic
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