The pituitary gland is a pea-sized structure located at the base of the brain, just below the hypothalamus and attached to it by nerve fibers. It is part of the endocrine system and produces hormones which control other glands as well as various bodily functions. The pituitary is divided into three sections known as the anterior, intermediate and posterior lobes, each of which produces specific hormones. The anterior lobe is mainly involved in development of the body, sexual maturation and reproduction. Hormones produced by the anterior lobe regulate growth and stimulate the adrenal and thyroid glands as well as the ovaries and testes. It also generates prolactin, which enables new mothers to produce milk. The intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland releases a hormone which stimulates the melanocytes, cells which control pigmentation through the production of melanin. The posterior lobe produces antidiuretic hormone, which reclaims water from the kidneys and conserves it in the bloodstream to prevent dehydration. Oxytocin is also produced by the posterior lobe, aiding in uterine contraction during childbirth and stimulating the production of milk.
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In Depth: Pituitary gland