What is the Pituitary Gland?
The pituitary gland is very small (about the size of a pea) and it is located just underneath the brain, behind the bridge of the nose. It is one of the most important parts of the body since it not only secretes hormones into the bloodstream, it also controls most of the other endocrine glands and their secretions.
For example, the pituitary gland releases hormones that regulate the adrenal glands, thyroid gland, testes, and ovaries. It is also responsible for producing prolactin, the hormone that signals milk production in the breasts of pregnant and nursing women.
Growth Hormone and Acromegaly
Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland regulates metabolism, growth and body composition (fat, bone, water, and muscle mass.) In acromegaly, the pituitary produces more GH than the body needs. When a person is an adult and has completely finished growing and their bones have been fused together, this excess of growth hormone causes the soft tissues of the body to continue growing. This is why enlargement of the face, feet, and hands are the most commonly associated symptoms of acromegaly.