Regulation of Body Processes

Free Response

Name and describe a function of one hormone produced by the anterior pituitary and one hormone produced by the posterior pituitary.


In addition to producing FSH and LH, the anterior pituitary also produces the hormone prolactin (PRL) in females. Prolactin stimulates the production of milk by the mammary glands following childbirth. Prolactin levels are regulated by the hypothalamic hormones prolactin-releasing hormone (PRH) and prolactin-inhibiting hormone (PIH) which is now known to be dopamine. PRH stimulates the release of prolactin and PIH inhibits it. The posterior pituitary releases the hormone oxytocin, which stimulates contractions during childbirth. The uterine smooth muscles are not very sensitive to oxytocin until late in pregnancy when the number of oxytocin receptors in the uterus peaks. Stretching of tissues in the uterus and vagina stimulates oxytocin release in childbirth. Contractions increase in intensity as blood levels of oxytocin rise until the birth is complete.

Describe one direct action of growth hormone (GH).


Hormonal regulation is required for the growth and replication of most cells in the body. Growth hormone (GH), produced by the anterior pituitary, accelerates the rate of protein synthesis, particularly in skeletal muscles and bones. Growth hormone has direct and indirect mechanisms of action. The direct actions of GH include: 1) stimulation of fat breakdown (lipolysis) and release into the blood by adipocytes. This results in a switch by most tissues from utilizing glucose as an energy source to utilizing fatty acids. This process is called a glucose-sparing effect. 2) In the liver, GH stimulates glycogen breakdown, which is then released into the blood as glucose. Blood glucose levels increase as most tissues are utilizing fatty acids instead of glucose for their energy needs. The GH mediated increase in blood glucose levels is called a diabetogenic effect because it is similar to the high blood glucose levels seen in diabetes mellitus.

Researchers have recently demonstrated that stressed people are more susceptible to contracting the common cold than people who are not stressed. What kind of stress must the infected patients be experiencing, and why does it make them more susceptible to the virus?


The stressed patients that catch a cold must be chronically (long-term) stressed. Long-term stress results in the production of glucocorticoids, such as cortisol. These hormones inhibit the function of the immune system, which makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases.