3. The Hypothalamo-Pituitary Axis

  1. Charles G. D. Brook MA, MD, FRCP, FRCPCH1 and
  2. Mehul T. Dattani MD, FRCP, FRCPCH, DCH2,3

Published Online: 23 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119968153.ch3

Handbook of Clinical Pediatric Endocrinology, Second Edition

Handbook of Clinical Pediatric Endocrinology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Brook, C. G. D. and Dattani, M. T. (2012) The Hypothalamo-Pituitary Axis, in Handbook of Clinical Pediatric Endocrinology, Second Edition, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119968153.ch3

Author Information

  1. 1

    University College London, London, UK

  2. 2

    Developmental Endocrinology Research Group, Clinical and Molecular Genetics Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, UK

  3. 3

    Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London and University College London Hospitals, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 23 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 13 APR 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470657881

Online ISBN: 9781119968153



  • anterior pituitary hormone deficiency;
  • combined pituitary hormone deficiency;
  • follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH);
  • gonadotropins;
  • growth hormone (GH);
  • luteinizing hormone (LH);
  • pituitary embryology;
  • pituitary function;
  • pituitary hormone excess;
  • prolactin;
  • thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH);
  • vasopressin


This chapter describes the hypothalamo-pituitary axis, its embryology and function. Anterior and posterior pituitary hormones are described as well as their congenital and acquired disorders. Presentation, diagnosis and management of these are covered in detail. Normal pituitary development is carefully orchestrated by a complex pattern of expression of transcription factors and signaling molecules. Pituitary hormone secretion is tightly regulated by a number of hypothalamic releasing and inhibitory hormones. Congenital hypopituitarism is a life-threatening disorder; patients require life-long surveillance. The diagnosis of hypopituitarism requires careful clinical evaluation supported by biochemical testing and neuroimaging; genetic testing may support the diagnosis. Acquired hypopituitarism can be due to traumatic brain injury, tumors such as craniopharyngioma or pituitary germinoma, inflammatory and infective causes, and rarely psychosocial causes.