Schreibman, Martin P. Department of Biology, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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- Developmental embryology
- Histology and cytology
- Mammalian morphology
- Adenohypophysis hormones
- Hypothalamic and neuronal involvement
- Neurohypophysis hormones
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The most structurally and functionally complex organ of the vertebrate endocrine system. The pituitary, also known as the hypophysis, is a pea-sized gland situated at the base of the brain (Fig. 1). Through its hormones, the pituitary affects every physiological process of the body. All vertebrates, beginning with the cyclostomes (jawless fishes), have a pituitary gland with a common basic structure and function. Still, the pituitary gland varies somewhat in complexity and hormonal potential among the vertebrate classes. In addition to its endocrine functions, the pituitary may play a role in immune responses. In general, inborn or acquired abnormalities in the structure or function of the pituitary gland lead to deleterious health conditions. See also: Brain; Endocrine mechanisms; Endocrine system (vertebrate); Endocrinology; Hormone; Immunology; Neurobiology; Neuroimmunology; Pituitary gland disorders
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