Liberal Arts Blog — What Does This “Master Gland” Not Do? What Can Go Wrong? What Does It Look Like?
Liberal Arts Blog — Wednesday is the Joy of Science, Engineering, and Technology Day
Today’s Topic — The Pituitary — What Does This “Master Gland” Not Do? What Can Go Wrong? What Does It Look Like?
Well, there is the growth thing. Then the metabolism thing., Then the sex thing. The milk thing. The love thing. Geez, this is ridiculous. The pituitary is, after all, the size of a pea. Have you thanked your pituitary lately? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
1. Behind the bridge of the nose.
2. Below the hypothalamus.
3. Above the thyroid and all the other glands that it bosses around — like the adrenals.
A SUPER FACTORY (“anterior”) and a STORAGE DEPOT (“posterior”)
1. Let’s not talk about what the two lobes look like. Perhaps appropriately the pituitary does send signals to both the ovaries and the testes. For example, LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone).
2. And if there is a more vital function than reproduction, well let me know. If so, well it would probably have to do with growth or metabolism and the pituitary has a vital role to play in each of these too. For example TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and GH (growth hormone).
3. And don’t forget homeostasis. The anterior pituitary stores two hormones actually manufactured in the hypothalamus — vasopressin (which controls blood pressure) and oxytocin (the “love” hormone which also stimulates contractions during labor).
NB: The anterior lobe does 75% of the work.
PATHOLOGIES: Acromegaly and Goliath, Addison’s and JFK, Growth Hormone Deficiency and Lionel Messi
1. Goliath probably had a pituitary adenoma (tumor) which messed with his optical chiasm that gave David his opportunity.
2. JFK got through the Cuban Missile Crisis thanks to daily doses of steroids for Addison’s disease which results in a shrinkage of the adrenal glands, insufficient adrenaline output, lethargy and dizziness.
3. Lionel Messi (above), the Argentine soccer player, was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at age 10. He was treated and ultimately became the second player in history to top $1 billion in career earnings.
SUMMARY — “a multi-tasking pea-sized organ….”
The pituitary is a multi-tasking, pea-sized organ shaped like two asymmetric gonads. The big four jobs are growth, reproduction, metabolism, and homeostasis. History is peppered with stories related to its malfunction. Notably, Goliath, JFK, and Lionel Messi.
A LINK TO THE LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
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