Pituitary Innovation and Teaching

Role of the endocrinologist

Speaker: Dr. Jeannette Goguen, endocrinologist

Video transcript

Hi my name is Dr. Goguen. I'm one of the endocrinologists here at St. Michael's Hospital at the University of Toronto. An endocrinologist, or hormone doctor, is one of the doctors you'll be seeing to manage your pituitary disease. A lot of people don't explain the role of the endocrinologist and I'm here to explain it.

Let's start with the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a very exciting gland for the endocrinologist because it's also called the master gland because it makes so many hormones that circulate through the body that affect so many other glands that make additional hormones; it becomes a very complex situation.

The pituitary itself makes seven hormones; the most important is ACTH that stimulates the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands produce cortisol and you need cortisol to live; without it, people become very sick, they get nausea, vomiting, dizziness weight loss, their blood pressure drops, and in extreme cases you can die from deficiency. The pituitary also makes TSH, which is the hormone that drives the thyroid gland in the neck which is used to produce T4 and T3. If these are deficient the person has an alteration in the level of their basal metabolic rate and they can get quite sick from that too.

The pituitary makes LH and FSH which circulate and affect sexual function - ovaries in the women and the testicles in men. The pituitary makes prolactin which affects milk production in women who's breast feeding. The pituitary makes GH which allow children to grow into adult heights; deficiency in this can cause symptoms in the adult as well.

And finally it makes ADH which allows the kidneys to conserve water. Without this you can urinate up to 6 litres a day and becomes very difficult to keep up drinking water.


Page last updated: June 3, 2016