The anterior pituitary gland originates from the roof of the embryo's mouth. It then
attaches itself to the posterior pituitary gland. By means of a venous portal
system, the anterior pituitary gland is connected to the hypothalamus. Here,
certain chemicals known as releasing factors are produced. These are carried to
the anterior pituitary by the venous portal system. They stimulate the anterior
pituitary gland's cells to secrete their specific hormones. In turn, these hormones
stimulate the target organs to produce their own products. This stimulating effect
is referred to as trophic. Two of the hormones produced by the anterior pituitary
gland are somatotrophic hormone and ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone).
The target organs of the first are the growing structures of the body. The second
stimulates the cortex of the suprarenal (adrenal) gland to produce its own
The thyroid gland is in the neck region just below the larynx and surrounds the
trachea. The masses on either side of the trachea are the right and left thyroid
lobes. The tissue connecting the two lobes is called the isthmus. It is found
across the front of the trachea. Each lobe of the thyroid gland is supplied by the
superior and inferior thyroid arteries. The primary hormone of the thyroid gland is
thyroxin, which affects the basal metabolic rate (BMR), the level of activity of the
The parathyroid glands are located on the posterior aspects of the thyroid lobes.
The hormone produced by these glands is called parathyroid hormone or
Within the pancreas are distributed small groups of cells known as islets. The two
most commonly recognized hormones of the islets are insulin and glucagon.
The suprarenal glands are embedded in the fat above the kidney on each side.
Each suprarenal gland has an internal medulla and an external cortex. The inner
portion produces a pair of hormones: epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine
(noradrenalin). These are involved in the mobilization of energy during the stress
reaction ("fight or flight"). Each suprarenal cortex produces hormones which can
be grouped into three different categories:
Mineralocorticoids (for example, aldosterone), which are concerned with the
electrolytes of the body.
Glucocorticoids (for example, cortisol), which are concerned with many
metabolic functions and are anti-inflammatory in nature.
In humans, the primary sex organs are known as gonads. These organs produce