Major advances in our understanding of the synthesis and release of anterior pituitary hormones have been made over the past several years. Neurons of the hypothalamus have been found to serve as "neuroendocrine transducers" in that they have both electrical and secretory functions. Peptidergic neurons respond to appropriate stimuli with a release of hypothalamic factors into the hypophyscal-portal system. These factors or hormones ultimately control the endocrine function of anterior pituitary cells. Three hormones, Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone (TRII), Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH or LHRH) and somatostatin have been identified, synthesized and tested for clinical applications. The clinical assessment of pituitary function has been greatly improved by new and improved radioimmunoassays. One of the recent clinical advances in the area of pituitary disease has been the determination of the relatively high frequency of prolactinomas. Prolactin secreting microadenomas are an important and treatable cause of amenorrhea and infertility in young women. In addition, many pituitary tumors previously believed to be non-functional or "chromophobe adenomas" appear to be prolactinomas. Many new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques are continuing to be developed to improve our management of patients with hypothalamic-pituitary disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry