Complete Description of Hormones and what they do.


Lifetime Diamond Supporter
Dec 5, 2003
Hormones of the Pituitary
The pituitary gland is pea-sized structure located at the base of the brain. In humans, it consists of two lobes:
the Anterior Lobe and
the Posterior Lobe
Link to graphic showing the location
of the pituitary and other endocrine
glands (92K).

The Anterior Lobe
The anterior lobe contains six types of secretory cells, all but one of which (#2 above) are specialized to secrete only one of the anterior lobe hormones. All of them secrete their hormone in response to hormones reaching them from the hypothalamus of the brain.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
TSH (also known as thyrotropin) is a glycoprotein consisting of:
a beta chain of 112 amino acids and
an alpha chain of 89 amino acids. The alpha chain is identical to that found in two other pituitary hormones, FSH and LH. Thus it is its beta chain that gives TSH its unique properties.
The secretion of TSH is
stimulated by the arrival of thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) from the hypothalamus.
inhibited by the arrival of somatostatin from the hypothalamus.
As its name suggests, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to secrete its hormone thyroxine (T4). It does this by binding to transmembrane G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) on the surface of the cells of the thyroid.
Some people develop antibodies against their own TSH receptors. When these bind the receptors, they "fool" the cell into making more T4 causing hyperthyroidism. The condition is called thyrotoxicosis or Graves' disease.

Hormone deficiencies
A deficiency of TSH causes hypothyroidism: inadequate levels of T4 (and thus of T3 [Link]). Recombinant human TSH has recently become available to treat patients with TSH deficiency.

Some people inherit mutant TSH receptors. This, too, results in hypothyroidism.

A deficiency of TSH, or mutant TSH receptors, have also been implicated as a cause of osteoporosis. Mice, whose TSH receptors have been knocked out, develop increased numbers of bone-reabsorbing osteoclasts.

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
FSH is a heterodimer of
the same alpha chain found in TSH (and LH)
a beta chain of 115 amino acids, which gives it its unique properties.
Synthesis and release of FSH is triggered by the arrival from the hypothalamus of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The effect of FSH depends on one's sex
FSH in females
In sexually-mature females, FSH (assisted by LH) acts on the follicle to stimulate it to release estrogens.
FSH in males
In sexually-mature males, FSH acts on spermatogonia stimulating (with the aid of testosterone) the production of sperm.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
LH is synthesized within the same pituitary cells as FSH and under the same stimulus (GnRH). It is a heterodimeric glycoprotein consisting of
the same 89-amino acid alpha subunit found in FSH and TSH
a beta chain of 115 amino acids that is responsible for its properties.
The effects of LH also depend on sex.
LH in females
In sexually-mature females, LH
stimulates the follicle to secrete estrogen in the first half of the menstrual cycle
a surge of LH triggers the completion of meiosis I of the egg and its release (ovulation) in the middle of the cycle
stimulates the now-empty follicle to develop into the corpus luteum,which secretes progesterone during the latter half of the menstrual cycle.
LH in males
LH acts on the interstitial cells of the testes stimulating them to synthesize and secrete the male sex hormone, testosterone.
LH in males is also known as interstitial cell stimulating hormone (ICSH).

Prolactin (PRL)
Prolactin is a protein of 198 amino acids. During pregnancy it helps in the preparation of the breasts for future milk production.
After birth, prolactin promotes the synthesis of milk.

Prolactin secretion is
stimulated by TRH
repressed by estrogens and dopamine.
In pregnant mice, prolactin stimulates the growth of new neurons in the olfactory center of the brain.

Growth Hormone (GH)
Human growth hormone (also called somatotropin) is a protein of 191 amino acids. The GH-secreting cells are stimulated to synthesize and release GH by the intermittent arrival of growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) from the hypothalamus. GH promotes body growth by:
binding to receptors on the surface of liver cells
this stimulates them to release insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1; also known as somatomedin)
IGF-1 acts directly on the ends of the long bones promoting their growth
Things that can go wrong.

In childhood,
hyposecretion of GH produces the stunted growth of a dwarf. Dwarfism can also result from an inability to respond to GH. This can result from inheriting two mutant genes encoding the receptors for
or homozygosity for a disabling mutation in STAT5b, which is part of the "downstream" signaling process after GH binds its receptor.
hypersecretion leads to gigantism
In adults, a hypersecretion of GH leads to acromegaly.
Hormone-replacement therapy
GH from domestic mammals like cows and pigs does not work in humans. So for many years, the only source of GH for therapy was that extracted from the glands of human cadavers. But this supply was shut off when several patients died from a rare neurological disease attributed to contaminated glands. Now, thanks to recombinant DNA technology, recombinant human GH (rHGH) is available. While a great benefit to patients suffering from GH deficiency, there has also been pressure to use it to stimulate growth in youngsters who have no deficiency but whose parents want them to grow up tall. And so, in the summer of 2003, the U.S. FDA approved the use of human growth hormone (HGH) for
boys predicted to grow no taller than 5Œ3 and
for girls, 4Œ11
even though otherwise perfectly healthy.
ACTH - the adrenocorticotropic hormone
ACTH is a peptide of 39 amino acids. It is cut from a larger precursor proopiomelanocortin (POMC).

ACTH acts on the cells of the adrenal cortex, stimulating them to produce
glucocorticoids, like cortisol
mineralocorticoids, like aldosterone
androgens (male sex hormones, like testosterone
in the fetus, ACTH stimulates the adrenal cortex to synthesize a precursor of estrogen called dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) which helps prepare the mother for giving birth.
Production of ACTH depends on the intermittent arrival of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) from the hypothalamus.

Hypersecretion of ACTH is a frequent cause of Cushing's disease.

Alpha Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone (ƒ¿-MSH)
Alpha MSH is also a cleavage product of proopiomelanocortin (POMC). In fact, ƒ¿-MSH is identical to the first 13 amino acids at the amino terminal of ACTH.
MSH is discussed in a separate page. Link to it.

The Posterior Lobe
The posterior lobe of the pituitary releases two hormones, both synthesized in the hypothalamus, into the circulation.
Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH).
ADH is a peptide of 9 amino acids. It is also known as arginine vasopressin.
ADH acts on the collecting ducts of the kidney to facilitate the reabsorption of water into the blood. This it acts to reduce the volume of urine formed (giving it its name of antidiuretic hormone).

Link to discussion of kidney physiology.

A deficiency of ADH or
inheritance of mutant genes for its receptor
leads to excessive loss of urine, a condition known as diabetes insipidus. The most severely-afflicted patients may urinate as much as 30 liters (almost 8 gallons!) of urine each day. The disease is accompanied by terrible thirst, and patients must continually drink water to avoid dangerous dehydration.
Oxytocin is a peptide of 9 amino acids. Its principal actions are:
stimulating contractions of the uterus at the time of birth
stimulating release of milk when the baby begins to suckle
Oxytocin is often given to prospective mothers to hasten birth.

Thought this might help everone understand there hormones a little better and help them understand how they can benifit from them.


Its a marathon, not a sprint!
Staff member
Jun 3, 2003
22,976 muving it to the diet and herbal section.


Oct 28, 2003
LH acts on the interstitial cells of the testes stimulating them to synthesize and secrete the male sex hormone, testosterone.
Very interesting stuff, Supra!
Now I know EXACTLY why the tribulus terrestris I'm taking makes me so damn horny! (understood the basic mechanism behind it already but not to this detail) ;)


Lifetime Diamond Supporter
Dec 5, 2003
Cool, I knew this will help out someone. Glad I could help!


Active member
Jun 3, 2003
I made this thread a sticky.