22.2.1 The Hypothalamus

As you know, the hypothalamus is the basal part of diencephalon, forebrain and it regulates a wide spectrum of body functions. It contains several groups of neurosecretory cells called nuclei which produce hormones. These hormones regulate the synthesis and secretion of pituitary hormones.

However, the hormones produced by hypothalamus are of two types, the releasing hormones (which stimulate secretion of pituitary hormones) and the inhibiting hormones (which inhibit secretions of pituitary hormones).

For example a hypothalamic hormone called Gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) stimulates the pituitary synthesis and release of gonadotrophins. On the other hand, somatostatin from the hypothalamus inhibits the release of growth hormone from the pituitary.

These hormones originating in the hypothlamic neurons, pass through axons and are released from their nerve endings. These hormones reach the pituitary gland through a portal circulatory system and regulate the functions of the anterior pituitary.

The posterior pituitary is under the direct neural regulation of the hypothalamus.

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