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Question Video: Explaining Why the Pituitary Gland Is Referred to as the Master Gland Biology

Which of the following best explains why the pituitary gland is often referred to as the master gland? [A] It controls the functions and secretions of many other endocrine glands. [B] It controls most of the major functions of the brain. [C] It receives communication from all other endocrine glands. [D] It is the last endocrine gland to form during fetal development.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following best explains why the pituitary gland is often referred to as the master gland? (A) It controls the functions and secretions of many other endocrine glands. (B) It controls most of the major functions of the brain. (C) It receives communication from all other endocrine glands. Or (D) it is the last endocrine gland to form during fetal development.

This question asks us about an important endocrine gland of the body, the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is one of the endocrine glands of our body, such as the thyroid gland, the adrenal glands, or the gonads, just to name a few. The pituitary gland is as little as a pea, attached to the bottom of the brain. Like the other endocrine glands of the body, the pituitary gland secretes hormones that are released in the bloodstream to reach their targets and regulate many body functions. But the pituitary gland stands out among the other endocrine glands and is often referred to as the master gland. Why is that said?

Let’s have a closer look at the structure and functions of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is made of two main lobes in humans, the anterior lobe and the posterior lobe. These two lobes are different in their structure, and they both release the pituitary hormones.

The pituitary hormones can be categorized into two groups, the tropic and the nontropic hormones. The tropic hormones act on another endocrine gland of the body. And the nontropic hormones have a direct effect on various tissues of the body. For example, growth hormones, GH, is a nontropic hormone that has a direct effect on bones and muscles to induce their growth. However, TSH, which stands for thyroid-stimulating hormone, is an example of a tropic hormone. It stimulates the thyroid gland to release other hormones that will modify our metabolism.

In fact, the pituitary gland releases many tropic hormones that target other endocrine glands, such as the adrenal glands or the gonads. This is why the pituitary gland is often referred to as the master gland. By controlling many other endocrine glands, it can control various functions of our body: our metabolism, blood pressure, or our reproduction.

Our correct answer is thus answer (A). The pituitary gland is often referred to as the master gland because it controls the functions and secretions of many other endocrine glands.

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