What are the five major endocrine glands?

Pituitary cell lines and their endocrine applications

The pituitary gland is an important component of the endocrine system, and together with the hypothalamus, exerts considerable influence over the functions of other endocrine glands. The hypothalamus either positively or negatively regulates hormonal productions in the pituitary through its release of various trophic hormones which act on specific cell types in the pituitary to secrete a variety of pituitary hormones that are important for growth and development, metabolism, reproductive and nervous system functions. The pituitary is divided into three sections-the anterior lobe which constitute the majority of the pituitary mass and is composed primarily of five hormone-producing cell types (thyrotropes, lactotropes, corticotropes, somatotropes and gonadotropes) each secreting thyrotropin, prolactin, ACTH, growth hormone and gonadotropins (FSH and LH) respectively. There is also a sixth cell type in the anterior lobe-the non-endocrine, agranular, folliculostellate cells. The intermediate lobe produces melanocyte-stimulating hormone and endorphins, whereas the posterior lobe secretes anti-diuretic hormone (vasopressin) and oxytocin. Representative cell lines of all the six cell types of the anterior pituitary have been established and have provided valuable information on genealogy of the various cell lineages, endocrine feedback control of hormone synthesis and secretions, intrapituitary interactions between the various cell types, as well as the role of specific transcription factors that determine each differentiated cell phenotype. In this review, we will discuss the morphology and function of the cell types that make up the anterior pituitary, and the characteristics of the various functional anterior pituitary cell systems that have been established to be representative of each anterior pituitary cell lineage.

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