How do the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland interact?


Quick Answer

The hypothalamus and pituitary glands work together to regulate the secretion of hormones from other glands. These two glands are physically connected, and the actions of the hypothalamus can affect the pituitary gland.

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Full Answer

The hypothalamus produces the hormones that regulate body temperature, thirst, sleep, moods, sex drive and the circadian rhythm. It provides a set point of homeostasis for electrolytes, body temperature, blood pressure and weight. According to the US National Library of Medicine, it also controls the pituitary gland. Although it is a small part of the brain, the hypothalamus is involved in many necessary processes, including behavioral, autonomic and endocrine functions. There are two sections in the pituitary gland: the anterior and the posterior. The hypothalamus can affect both areas.

Located at the base of the brain, the pituitary gland is the size of a pea. It is connected to the hypothalamus through a small tube called the pituitary stalk. This gland regulates several physiological processes, including growth, reproduction, stress and lactation. Nine hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland, which work with the hypothalamus to promote homeostasis, and several diseases can originate in the pituitary, including diabetes, gigantism, hypothyroidism, hypopituitarism, pituitary tumors and adenomas. The functions of the pituitary gland can be affected by an under or over production of associated hormones.

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