Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Pituitary Gland Underactive Underlying Cause

The pituitary gland produces hormones. These hormones stimulate other organs to function, or stimulate other organs to produce additional hormones. In a person with hypopituitarism, the pituitary does not make enough of one of the hormones.

Hypopituitarism results in a shortage in one of the following hormones:

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone:
    • Stimulates the adrenal glands to make cortisol, which regulates metabolism and glucose levels.
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH):
    • Stimulates the production of eggs in the ovary of a woman. In men, FSH stimulates the production of sperm.
  • Growth hormone:
    • Stimulates growth in children, and the production of muscle in adults.
  • Luteinizing hormone:
    • Stimulates the ovary to release the egg.
  • Melanocyte stimulating hormone:
    • Stimulates the production of colored pigment in the skin.
  • Prolactin:
    • Prepares the pregnant female's breasts for milk production.
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone:
    • Stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.

The most common causes of hypopituitarism include:

Continue to Pituitary Gland Underactive Anatomy

Last Updated: Feb 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Pituitary Gland Underactive References
  1. Dattani MT. Novel insights into the aetiology and pathogenesis of hypopituitarism. Horm Res. 2004;62 Suppl 3:1-13. [15539793]
  2. Smith JC. Hormone replacement therapy in hypopituitarism. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2004 May;5(5):1023-31. [15155105]
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