Overview of the Endocrine System & Pituitary Gland Pt 1

The endocrine system is composed of different glands and organs that are primarily responsible for producing hormones, namely:

  • Hypothalamus
  • Pituitary gland
  • Thyroid gland
  • Parathyroid glands
  • Adrenal gland
  • Pancreas

Due to the extensive scope of the endocrine system, memorizing every single hormone and every single function is quite challenging. Just trying to figure out what gland or organ a specific hormone is originating from and its primary function can eat so much of a student’s study time.

Students can try to study, master, and go through every single gland or organ, or they can choose the easier, more simplified way. How? By easily figuring out where it starts and how it branches out.

The Coffee Plantation

Consider your hypothalamus as your main creator of coffee beans. Don’t stress out about the pathophysiology for now. Just focus on your hypothalamus as your plantation for coffee beans that are used by coffee shops.

So, whenever you think about the hormones produced inside the body, namely:

  • Insulin – produced in the pancreas to allow glucose inside the cells
  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) – regulates water that affects blood pressure
  • Oxytocin – helps with cervical dilation
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone – suppresses appetite
  • Growth hormone – responsible for physical development in children

All of these hormones are generally produced in the coffee plantation – the hypothalamus. A lot of people get confused when different systems get involved.

The Storage Facility and Distribution Company

The pituitary gland acts like the coffee plantation’s storage facility and distribution company by packing the hormones up and shipping them out to specific parts of the body.

The pituitary gland is broken down into two parts:

  1. Anterior pituitary (AP) – the front part of the pituitary gland
  2. Posterior pituitary (PP) – back part of the pituitary gland

We will be mainly focusing on the posterior pituitary gland.

The Posterior Pituitary Gland

The posterior pituitary gland is primarily associated with your antidiuretic hormone (ADH) or the hormone that’s primarily responsible for our pee-pee.

Antidiuretic hormone is that hormone that controls the release of fluids from the body most especially from the kidneys in the form of urine. The posterior pituitary will communicate with the kidneys (exit portals) to allow pee-pee to pass.

Think of the antidiuretic hormone as a turnstile. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, turnstile is like a small gate that allows one person at a time to go through and to be able to pass; you would need a ticket, a coin, or a card. You can see turnstiles fairs, train stations and, entrances of buildings.

ADH Main Function

Now that we’ve established what a turnstile is and how it is similar to an ADH, we’ll go to its function.

ADH, like a turnstile, accumulates H2O, puts it back in the body, not allowing water to go out through the process of reabsorption. Every time fluid wants to go out, turnstile ADH will bring water right back in.

But what happens if a problem occurs with your ADH – too much or too little production? Issues with ADH will lead to either SIADH or diabetes insipidus (DI). These two conditions will be discussed and broken down in our next lecture.

See you there!