Characteristics

The bean-sized pituitary gland is located within a depression in the middle of the skull and is attached to the brain by a narrow stalk. There are two portions—the anterior and posterior lobes. Each secretes its own hormones, and each has its own functions, although the hormones secreted by the posterior lobe are still somewhat of a mystery.

The anterior pituitary gland produces hormones that stimulate the other ductless glands to manufacture their own hormones. It also produces a hormone called somatatrophic that controls the rate of growth and has a relationship with the breast glands that produce a mother's milk. This growth hormone is related to every cell in the body: its thyrotrophic hormone activates the thyroid gland, which in turn regulates the intermediary metabolic processes of all cells. The thyroid and growth hormone between them control the size of the body as a whole.

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