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The hypothalamus has a major role in the control of a variety of endocrine systems.

It acts upon the pituitary in two principal ways:

  • by the secretion of hormones or prohormones, which are transported to the posterior pituitary
  • by the secretion of controlling hormones into the portal hypophyseal circulation - a blood supply running from the hypothalamus to the pituitary. Most of these systems work on negative feedback; notable exceptions include growth hormone releasing hormone and the unusual requirement for pulsed release of gonadotrophin releasing hormone.

Last reviewed 01/2018