In embryogenesis, Rathke's pouch is a depression in the roof of the developing mouth in front of the buccopharyngeal membrane. It gives rise to the anterior pituitary, a part of the endocrine system.
The pouch eventually loses its connection with the pharynx
giving rise to the anterior pituitary
. The anterior wall of Rathke's pouch proliferates, filling most of the pouch to form pars distalis
and pars tuberalis
. The posterior wall forms pars intermedia
In some organisms (humans being a notable exception), the proliferating anterior wall does not fully occupy Rathke's pouch, leaving a remnant (Rathke's cleft) between the pars distalis and pars intermedia.
Rathke's pouch may also persist as cysts (craniopharyngioma
) within the pars intermedia
It is named for Martin Rathke