Pituitary Gland – Endocrine System.

In vertebrate anatomy, the pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighing 0.5 grams (0.018 oz) in humans. It is a protrusion off the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain, and rests in a small, bony cavity (sella turcica) covered by a dural fold (diaphragma sellae). The posterior pituitary gland is functionally connected to the hypothalamus by the median eminence via a small tube called the pituitary stalk, (also called the infundibular stalk or the infundibulum). The pituitary gland sits in the hypophysial fossa, situated in the sphenoid bone in the middle cranial fossa at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland secretes nine hormones that regulate homeostasis.


The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland that sits in a protective bony enclosure called the sella turcica. It is composed of three lobes: anterior, intermediate, and posterior. In many animals, these three lobes are distinct. However, in humans, the intermediate lobe is but a few cell layers thick and indistinct; as a result, it is often considered part of the anterior pituitary. In all animals, the fleshy, glandular anterior pituitary is distinct from the neural composition of the posterior pituitary. It belongs to the diencephalon.


Main article: Anterior pituitary

The anterior pituitary arises from an invagination of the oral ectoderm and forms Rathke’s pouch. This contrasts with the posterior pituitary, which originates from neuroectoderm.

Endocrine cells of the anterior pituitary are controlled by regulatory hormones released by parvocellular neurosecretory cells in the hypothalamus. The latter release regulatory hormones into hypothalamic capillaries leading to infundibular blood vessels, which in turn lead to a second capillary bed in the anterior pituitary. This vascular relationship constitutes the hypothalamo-hypophyseal portal system. Diffusing out of the second capillary bed, the hypothalamic releasing hormones then bind to anterior pituitary endocrine cells, upregulating or downregulating their release of hormones.

The anterior pituitary is divided into anatomical regions known as the pars tuberalis, pars intermedia, and pars distalis. It develops from a depression in the dorsal wall of the pharynx (stomodial part) known as Rathke’s pouch.


Main article: Posterior pituitary

The posterior lobe develops as an extension of the hypothalamus. The magnocellular neurosecretory cells of the posterior side possess cell bodies located in the hypothalamus that project axons down the infundibulum to terminals in the posterior pituitary. This simple arrangement differs sharply from that of the adjacent anterior pituitary, which does not develop from the hypothalamus. The release of pituitary hormones by both the anterior and posterior lobes is under the control of the hypothalamus, albeit in different ways.

Intermediate lobe

Although rudimentary in humans (and often considered part of the anterior pituitary), the intermediate lobe located between the anterior and posterior pituitary is important to many animals. For instance, in fish, it is believed to control physiological color change. In adult humans, it is just a thin layer of cells between the anterior and posterior pituitary. The intermediate lobe produces melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), although this function is often (imprecisely) attributed to the anterior pituitary.

The intermediate lobe is, in general, not well developed in tetrapods, and is entirely absent in birds.

Variations among vertebrates

The pituitary gland is found in all vertebrates, but its structure varies between different groups.

The division of the pituitary described above is typical of mammals, and is also true, to varying degrees, of all tetrapods. However, only in mammals does the posterior pituitary have a compact shape. In lungfishes, it is a relatively flat sheet of tissue lying above the anterior pituitary, and, in amphibians, reptiles, and birds, it becomes increasingly well developed. The intermediate lobe is, in general, not well developed in tetrapods, and is entirely absent in birds.

Apart from lungfishes, the structure of the pituitary in fish is generally different from that in tetrapods. In general, the intermediate lobe tends to be well developed, and may equal the remainder of the anterior pituitary in size. The posterior lobe typically forms a sheet of tissue at the base of the pituitary stalk, and in most cases sends irregular finger-like projection into the tissue of the anterior pituitary, which lies directly beneath it. The anterior pituitary is typically divided into two regions, a more anterior rostral portion and a posterior proximal portion, but the boundary between the two is often not clearly marked. In elasmobranchs there is an additional, ventral lobe beneath the anterior pituitary proper.

The arrangement in lampreys, which are among the most primitive of all fish, may indicate how the pituitary originally evolved in ancestral vertebrates. Here, the posterior pituitary is a simple flat sheet of tissue at the base of the brain, and there is no pituitary stalk. Rathke’s pouch remains open to the outside, close to the nasal openings. Closely associated with the pouch are three distinct clusters of glandular tissue, corresponding to the intermediate lobe, and the rostral and proximal portions of the anterior pituitary. These various parts are separated by meningial membranes, suggesting that the pituitary of other vertebrates may have formed from the fusion of a pair of separate, but associated, glands.

Most armadillos also possess a neural secretory gland very similar in form to the posterior pituitary, but located in the tail and associated with the spinal cord. This may have a function in osmoregulation.

There is a structure analogous to the pituitary in the octopus brain.

Hormones secreted


The anterior pituitary synthesizes and secretes the following important endocrine hormones:


  • Growth hormone (also referred to as ‘Human Growth Hormone’, ‘HGH’ or ‘GH’ or somatotropin), released under influence of hypothalamic Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone (GHRH), (also known as growth-hormone-releasing factor (GHRF)); inhibited by hypothalamic somatostatin


  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), released under influence of hypothalamic Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) (or TRF); inhibited by somatostatin


  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), released under influence of hypothalamic Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH), (or CRF)
  • Beta-endorphin, released under influence of hypothalamic Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH)or (CRF)[5]


  • Prolactin (PRL), also known as ‘Luteotropic’ hormone (LTH), whose release is inconsistently stimulated by hypothalamic TRH, oxytocin, vasopressin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, angiotensin II, neuropeptide Y, galanin, substance P, bombesin-like peptides (gastrin-releasing peptide, neuromedin B and C), and neurotensin, and inhibited by hypothalamic dopamine.[6]


  • Luteinizing hormone (also referred to as ‘Lutropin’ or ‘LH’).
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), both released under influence of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

These hormones are released from the anterior pituitary under the influence of the hypothalamus. Hypothalamic hormones are secreted to the anterior lobe by way of a special capillary system, called the hypothalamic-hypophysial portal system.


The posterior pituitary synthesizes and secretes the following important endocrine hormones:

Magnocellular Neurons:

  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH, also known as vasopressin and AVP, arginine vasopressin), the majority of which is released from the supraoptic nucleus in the hypothalamus
  • Oxytocin, most of which is released from the paraventricular nucleus in the hypothalamus. Oxytocin is one of the few hormones to create a positive feedback loop. For example, uterine contractions stimulate the release of oxytocin from the posterior pituitary, which, in turn, increases uterine contractions. This positive feedback loop continues throughout labour.


The intermediate lobe synthesizes and secretes the following important endocrine hormone:

  • Melanocyte–stimulating hormones (MSHs), although this function is often (imprecisely) attributed to the anterior pituitary. These are sometimes called “intermedins,” as these are released by the pars intermedia.


Hormones secreted from the pituitary gland help control the following body processes:

  • Growth (Excess of HGH can lead to gigantism and acromegaly.)
Compared with the hand of an unaffected person (left), the hand of someone with acromegaly (right) is enlarged.
  • Blood pressure
  • Some aspects of pregnancy and childbirth including stimulation of uterine contractions during childbirth
  • Breast milk production
  • Sex organ functions in both males and females
  • Thyroid gland function
  • The conversion of food into energy (metabolism)
  • Water and osmolarity regulation in the body
  • Water balance via the control of reabsorption of water by the kidneys
  • Temperature regulation
  • Pain relief

Diseases involving the pituitary gland

Main article: Pituitary disease

Some of the diseases involving the pituitary gland are:

  • Hyperpituitarism, the increased (hyper) secretion of one or more of the hormones normally produced by the pituitary gland.
  • Hypopituitarism, the decreased (hypo) secretion of one or more of the hormones normally produced by the pituitary gland. If there is decreased secretion of most pituitary hormones, the term panhypopituitarism (pan meaning “all”) is used.
  • Pituitary tumours.
  • Pituitary adenomas, noncancerous tumors that occur in the pituitary gland.

What was the Human Genome Project?

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was the international, collaborative research program whose goal was the complete mapping and understanding of all the genes of human beings. All our genes together are known as our “genome.”

The HGP was the natural culmination of the history of genetics research. In 1911, Alfred Sturtevant, then an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Thomas Hunt Morgan, realized that he could – and had to, in order to manage his data – map the locations of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) genes whose mutations the Morgan laboratory was tracking over generations. Sturtevant’s very first gene map can be likened to the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk. In turn, the Human Genome Project can be compared to the Apollo program bringing humanity to the moon.

The hereditary material of all multi-cellular organisms is the famous double helix of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which contains all of our genes. DNA, in turn, is made up of four chemical bases, pairs of which form the “rungs” of the twisted, ladder-shaped DNA molecules. All genes are made up of stretches of these four bases, arranged in different ways and in different lengths. HGP researchers have deciphered the human genome in three major ways: determining the order, or “sequence,” of all the bases in our genome’s DNA; making maps that show the locations of genes for major sections of all our chromosomes; and producing what are called linkage maps, complex versions of the type originated in early Drosophila research, through which inherited traits (such as those for genetic disease) can be tracked over generations.

The HGP has revealed that there are probably about 20,500 human genes. The completed human sequence can now identify their locations. This ultimate product of the HGP has given the world a resource of detailed information about the structure, organization and function of the complete set of human genes. This information can be thought of as the basic set of inheritable “instructions” for the development and function of a human being.

The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium published the first draft of the human genome in the journal Nature in February 2001 with the sequence of the entire genome’s three billion base pairs some 90 percent complete. A startling finding of this first draft was that the number of human genes appeared to be significantly fewer than previous estimates, which ranged from 50,000 genes to as many as 140,000.The full sequence was completed and published in April 2003.

Upon publication of the majority of the genome in February 2001, Francis Collins, the director of NHGRI, noted that the genome could be thought of in terms of a book with multiple uses: “It’s a history book – a narrative of the journey of our species through time. It’s a shop manual, with an incredibly detailed blueprint for building every human cell. And it’s a transformative textbook of medicine, with insights that will give health care providers immense new powers to treat, prevent and cure disease.”

The tools created through the HGP also continue to inform efforts to characterize the entire genomes of several other organisms used extensively in biological research, such as mice, fruit flies and flatworms. These efforts support each other, because most organisms have many similar, or “homologous,” genes with similar functions. Therefore, the identification of the sequence or function of a gene in a model organism, for example, the roundworm C. elegans, has the potential to explain a homologous gene in human beings, or in one of the other model organisms. These ambitious goals required and will continue to demand a variety of new technologies that have made it possible to relatively rapidly construct a first draft of the human genome and to continue to refine that draft. These techniques include:

Of course, information is only as good as the ability to use it. Therefore, advanced methods for widely disseminating the information generated by the HGP to scientists, physicians and others, is necessary in order to ensure the most rapid application of research results for the benefit of humanity. Biomedical technology and research are particular beneficiaries of the HGP.

However, the momentous implications for individuals and society for possessing the detailed genetic information made possible by the HGP were recognized from the outset. Another major component of the HGP – and an ongoing component of NHGRI – is therefore devoted to the analysis of the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of our newfound genetic knowledge, and the subsequent development of policy options for public consideration.

What Is Sickle Cell Anemia?

Sickle cell anemia  is the most common form of sickle cell disease (SCD). SCD is a serious disorder in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. “Sickle-shaped” means that the red blood cells are shaped like a crescent.

Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like doughnuts without holes in the center. They move easily through your blood vessels. Red blood cells contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin called sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. Sickle hemoglobin causes the cells to develop a sickle, or crescent, shape.

Sickle cells are stiff and sticky. They tend to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain and organ damage. It can also raise the risk for infection.

Normal Red Blood Cells and Sickle Cells

Figure A shows normal red blood cells flowing freely in a blood vessel. The inset image shows a cross-section of a normal red blood cell with normal hemoglobin. Figure B shows abnormal, sickled red blood cells blocking blood flow in a blood vessel. The inset image shows a cross-section of a sickle cell with abnormal (sickle) hemoglobin forming abnormal strands.

Figure A shows normal red blood cells flowing freely in a blood vessel. The inset image shows a cross-section of a normal red blood cell with normal hemoglobin. Figure B shows abnormal, sickled red blood cells blocking blood flow in a blood vessel. The inset image shows a cross-section of a sickle cell with abnormal (sickle) hemoglobin forming abnormal strands.


Sickle cell anemia is one type of anemia. Anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower than normal number of red blood cells. This condition also can occur if your red blood cells don’t contain enough hemoglobin.

Red blood cells are made in the spongy marrow inside the larger bones of the body. Bone marrow is always making new red blood cells to replace old ones. Normal red blood cells live about 120 days in the bloodstream and then die. They carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide (a waste product) from your body.

In sickle cell anemia, the abnormal sickle cells usually die after only about 10 to 20 days. The bone marrow can’t make new red blood cells fast enough to replace the dying ones.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited, lifelong disease. People who have the disease are born with it. They inherit two genes for sickle hemoglobin—one from each parent.

People who inherit a sickle hemoglobin gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other parent have a condition called sickle cell trait.

Sickle cell trait is different than sickle cell anemia. People who have sickle cell trait don’t have the disease. Like people who have sickle cell anemia, people who have sickle cell trait can pass the sickle hemoglobin gene to their children.

Central Dogma of Biology…

ScreenHunter_03 Sep. 19 17.16
central dogma of biology states that “the coded genetic information hard-wired into DNA is transcribed into individual transportable cassettes, composed of messenger RNA (mRNA); each mRNA cassette contains the program for synthesis of a particular protein (or small number of proteins).”

Transcription of DNA to RNA to protein: This dogma forms the backbone of molecular biology and is represented by four major stages.

1. The DNA replicates its information in a process that involves many enzymes: replication.

2. The DNA codes for the production of messenger RNA (mRNA) during transcription.

3. In eukaryotic cells, the mRNA is processed (essentially by splicing) and migrates from the nucleus to the cytoplasm.

4. Messenger RNA carries coded information to ribosomes. The ribosomes “read” this information and use it for protein synthesis. This process is called translation.

Proteins do not code for the production of protein, RNA or DNA.
They are involved in almost all biological activities, structural or enzymatic.

Fertilization Process in Humans…

The lucky few sperm who reached the egg in the Fallopian tube surround it and begin competing for entrance. The head of each sperm, the acrosome, releases enzymes that begin to break down the outer, jelly-like layer of the egg’s membrane, trying to penetrate the egg. Once a single sperm has penetrated, the cell membrane of the egg changes its electrical characteristics. This electrical signal causes small sacs just beneath the membrane (cortical granules) to dump their contents into the space surrounding the egg. The contents swell, pushing the other sperm far away from the egg in a process called cortical reaction. The cortical reaction ensures that only one sperm fertilizes the egg. The other sperm die within 48 hours.

The fertilized egg is now called a zygote. The depolarization caused by sperm penetration results in one last round of division in the egg’s nucleus, forming a pronucleus containing only one set of genetic information. The pronucleus from the egg merges with the nucleus from the sperm. Once the two pronuclei merge, cell division begins immediately.

The dividing zygote gets pushed along the Fallopian tube. Approximately four days after fertilization, the zygote has about 100 cells and is called a blastocyst. When the blastocyst reaches the uterine lining, it floats for about two days and finally implants itself in the uterine wall around six days after fertilization. This signals the beginning of pregnancy. The implanted blastocyst continues developing in the uterus for nine months. As the baby grows, the uterus stretches until it’s about the size of a basketball. Watch this amazing video……..

Double Fertilization and Triple Fusion..

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 19 16.25

Double Fertilization is a complex fertilization mechanism that has evolved in flowering plants (angiosperms). This process involves the joining of a female gametophyte (megagametophyte, also called the embryo sac) with two male gametes (sperm). It begins when a pollen grain adheres to the stigma of the carpel, the female reproductive structure of a flower. The pollen grain then takes in moisture and begins to germinate, forming a pollen tube that extends down toward the ovary through the style. The tip of the pollen tube then enters the ovary and penetrates through the micropyle opening in the ovule. The pollen tube proceeds to release the two sperm in the megagametophyte.

One sperm fertilizes the egg cell and the other sperm combines with the two polar nuclei of the large central cell of the megagametophyte. The haploid sperm and haploid egg combine to form a diploid zygote, while the other sperm and the two haploid polar nuclei of the large central cell of the megagametophyte form a triploid nucleus (some plants may form polyploid nuclei). The large cell of the gametophyte will then develop into the endosperm, a nutrient-rich tissue which provides nourishment to the developing embryo. The ovary, surrounding the ovules, develops into the fruit, which protects the seeds and may function to disperse them.

Magnifying the Universe…..


This interactive infographic from Number Sleuth accurately illustrates the scale of over 100 items within the observable universe ranging from galaxies to insects, nebulae and stars to molecules and atoms. Numerous hot points along the zoom slider allow for direct access to planets, animals, the hydrogen atom and more. As you scroll, a handy dial spins to show you your present magnification level.

While other sites have tried to magnify the universe, no one else has done so with real photographs and 3D renderings. To fully capture the awe of the vastly different sizes of the Pillars of Creation, Andromeda, the sun, elephants and HIV, you really need to see images, not just illustrations of these items. Stunningly enough, the Cat’s Eye Nebula is surprising similar to coated vesicles, showing that even though the nebula is more than 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times larger, many things are similar in our universe.

We hope you have a blast magnifying the universe, know that each time you zoom in a depth, you’re magnifying the universe 10x … and every time you zoom out, the bigger objects are 1/10th of their prior size. If you zoom from the biggest object, The Observable Universe (8.8 x 10E26 … or 880,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000m across), all the way down to the hydrogen atom’s proton nucleus (1.7 x 10E-15 … or 0.0000000000000017m across), you will have zoomed in over 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000x! Unbelievable isn’t it? Our universe really is immensely massive and surprisingly small.

How To Use:

Step 1:
To experience this interactive infographic in full screen (our recommendation) click the “Full Screen” button in the top right corner of the infographic.

Step 2:
Choose one of nine starting points by moving your mouse over and clicking one of the 9 images (atoms, animals, buildings, mountains, planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies and the observable universe).

Step 3:
Now on the bottom of the infographic, there is a blue blue dot that you can click on with your mouse.Drag the blue circle left to go “up” in size and drag the blue circle right to go “down” in size

Step 4:
To relocate to one of the nine entry points, click the corresponding yellow dot on the scroller at the bottom of the page


You can view a list of image credits used in the construction of this infographic by clicking here.

Produced for Number Sleuth by Science is Beautiful in coordination with Mandril Design and Killer Infographics.

<br />Copyright 2012.  <a href=”http://www.numbersleuth.org/universe/”>Magnifying the Universe</a>  by <a href=”http://www.numbersleuth.org”>Number Sleuth</a>.